Formal and informal socialising

It is important to be able to get on with people in the work environment and socialising often helps people to do that better. You may want to minimise the times you need to use these skills as it gets very tiring to concentrate on this as well as the work. Social events can be formal and planned, or informal and arranged by the teams themselves. Many organisations put time and money into making sure that their workers feel part of a team. This is important to most employees and is thought to help individuals get to know their colleagues so that they can collaborate in work more effectively.

You may be expected to attend some social or team activities, others you can avoid without causing offence

Team building – daytime or evening events designed to improve communication, build trust, reduce conflict, and improve collaboration. You will probably be asked to work with other people in teams and may be asked to solve a problem. It is paid for by the company and counts as working time. They are usually held away from the office, so ask for all of the details of the event in advance and to be assigned to a team with your line manager or another colleague that you like so that you feel as comfortable as possible. Examples might include an evening bowling, team quizzes, going sailing, or an escape-room challenge.

If the venue or event type isn’t accessible for you, you may need to ask for a reasonable adjustment or explain why you feel unable to attend

Going out after work – often an informal arrangement where groups of people go out for a drink or other activity, with or without a meal, in your own time. You do not necessarily have to attend these informal events, but they are often an opportunity to find out more about your colleagues and build relationships and understanding.
If you want to get involved in these kinds of informal team activities, you might want to talk to a trusted colleague about what would make it easier for you to attend – for example knowing where you’re likely to go and whether you’re planning to stay out for meal times in advance. Sometimes going out after work is spontaneous – for example as a response to something really good happening at work that day. And sometimes plans change, meaning colleagues might decide to change venues during the evening. It’s OK to go out for a while and then go home when you’re ready to do so, you don’t need to feel you have to stay until a particular time or until others choose to go home.

Christmas Meal – many workplaces celebrate Christmas by going out. This could be a Christmas lunch, or an evening meal. Ask whether or not you will need to pay or contribute a proportion of the costs for the meal and drinks as not all companies will pay. You can expect to pay a price per person and choose options from a set menu. Find out who is organising the event, check the menu in advance and agree to go to a venue that serves food you are ok to eat. If you are based in an office, factory, shop or place of work with other people, you will probably be expected to go unless you are ill, but you do not have to go if you don’t want to.

Office Party – held in the office itself, at a hotel, bar or other venue. You will probably be expected to go and look happy to be there. In reality, not everyone enjoys work parties and the fact that many who attend often consume lots of alcohol. If it is held outside work time, you do not have to go and there is no need to drink alcohol if you do not want to.

Going out for lunch or coffee break – Work colleagues will often go out in small groups to buy lunch or snacks and bring it back or eat lunch out together. If they are happy for you to join them, they will invite you. You do not have to say yes. You can also suggest lunch with a colleague yourself. Teams sometimes go out for a working lunch, where everyone needs to attend as you will be discussing work. If you are working on that project or in that team you will be expected to go with them. You should discuss any dietary requirements with the person booking the venue to make sure there is something you are able to eat. Also, be ready to cover your share of the costs.