As workplaces become trendier and more flexible, more businesses are serving alcohol in the office. This may take the form of a keg refrigerator or a stocked bar in the break room, office-sponsored happy hours during the day or a BYOB policy. An alcohol-friendly workplace offers advantages and disadvantages. If your business wants to go this route, consider implementing a few safeguards to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.

Advantages of Alcohol in the Office

Offering alcohol in the workplace can help create a friendlier atmosphere and provide incentives for employees who have to work long hours. These alcohol-friendly policies are frequently seen in startups and tech companies that are embracing a younger culture, as highlighted by BloombergBusiness.

One advantage of this atmosphere is giving overworked employees an outlet to take a break or enjoy a drink after a long workday, which may help improve overall morale. An alcohol-friendly policy might also help employees feel less intimidated and create a social atmosphere around the office, with different departments getting to know each other in a more informal setting. Some companies even believe that a little alcohol and mingling help with the creative process.

Disadvantages of an Alcohol-Friendly Office

There certainly can be drawbacks to having alcohol in the office. For example, after a few drinks, employees may be less productive, produce lower-quality work or fall behind on quotas. You also need to be receptive to people who have had struggles with drinking; if employees are recovering alcoholics trying to stay sober, they may not be able to work in an office where alcohol is plentiful. Some employees might not know where to draw the line, and they could overindulge before they drive home.

Alcohol should definitely not be used in a workplace where any prevalent physical activity takes place. Employers also can’t ignore the negative health effects of overdrinking over a long period, such as heart damage, high blood pressure, damage to the liver and pancreas, and an increased risk of certain types of cancer.

Safeguards to Consider

If you want to run an alcohol-friendly business while staying considerate of the potential harmful effects, here are a few safeguards you can implement to help keep things from going too far:

  • Only allow drinking on the premises during certain social hours or after regular work hours.
  • Offer plenty of alternatives to people who prefer not to drink, such as high-quality nonalcoholic beverages and snacks.
  • Make sure your company offers social activities that don’t revolve around drinking so employees don’t feel left out.
  • Check that your liability insurance covers any accidents that might happen during a social hour on your premises.
  • Stay vigilant to ensure that drunk driving doesn’t happen. One solution here is to offer paid transportation services for employees who have had too much to drink during events such as a holiday party.

The main factors to consider when weighing whether to offer alcohol in the workplace are your company’s culture, your clients’ and employees’ preferences and how much liability you’re comfortable with. If you do offer alcohol, just make sure none of your employees feel coerced to drink if they don’t want to and that you offer alternatives, as well as activities that don’t focus on drinking. While many of your employees will appreciate the chance to relax and have a few drinks with co-workers, you want to toe both sides of the line.

Stephanie Dwilson has extensive experience providing expertise on topics including health, law and marketing. She’s a science journalist published by Fox News, a marketing expert and an attorney with expertise in personal injury law. She’s also a small business expert featured by Businessweek and Millionaire Blueprints magazine and has worked as a marketing consultant for ministries and as a PR lead for one of the largest churches in America.