In a workplace culture where social events often revolve around alcohol, new statistics reveal that 34 percent of employees actively avoid work-related gatherings.

As Sober October gains momentum, HR experts at Easy Offices offer valuable insights into fostering inclusivity in the workplace for the growing number of non-drinkers.

According to recent data, a staggering 84 percent of work-related social events currently involve alcohol consumption.

However, in a society where one in five Brits abstains from drinking, this heavy reliance on alcohol may unintentionally exclude a significant portion of the workforce.

In a survey, 43 percent of UK adults expressed feeling immense pressure to consume alcohol during work-related events.

Sober October has expanded

Sober October, originally initiated to raise funds for cancer patients, has now transformed into a widespread movement. The campaign encourages individuals to embark on a 31-day journey without alcohol, offering numerous health benefits, including improved sleep quality, clearer skin, enhanced memory, better learning and decision-making capabilities, and increased creativity.

Despite these evolving societal dynamics, 84 percent of employers continue to endorse work socials that feature alcohol. Remarkably, over the last two years, more than seventy thousand people sought treatment for alcohol misuse. For a significant number of Brits who choose to abstain, such work events can be isolating. A total of 43 percent of UK adults admit to feeling pressured to drink when socialising with colleagues, while 34 percent of employees actively avoid work socials due to the perceived expectation of alcohol consumption.

In light of these statistics, employers and managers must reimagine their approach to organising work-related social events. The goal should be to foster inclusivity, creating an environment where all employees feel comfortable and valued.

To assist employers and managers in achieving this objective, Easy Offices provides alternative activities that are alcohol-free:

  1. Book Club: Encourage team members to bring snacks and choose a book of the month. Regular meetings provide an opportunity to discuss the book, fostering connections outside the workplace.
  2. Games Night: Board games and card games are universally beloved. Take turns selecting games and enjoy some friendly competition.
  3. Escape Room: Escape rooms are not only great for team bonding but also guarantee lots of laughter. They have seen a significant increase in popularity, with searches exceeding 10,000 in the past year.
  4. Sports: While not everyone’s cup of tea, sports can be perfect for outdoor gatherings during the summer months and indoor team-building activities during the colder season.
  5. Alcohol-Free Bars: These venues offer a similar social vibe to traditional bars but cater to all employees. The number of alcohol-free bars is on the rise, ensuring accessibility for everyone.
  6. Scavenger Hunt: Create a scavenger hunt in the city where your office is located. This activity encourages interaction across departments and fosters teamwork.
  7. Volunteer Days: Consider organising activities like volunteering at an animal shelter or coordinating a food or toy drive during the festive season to build a sense of community.

By actively organising alcohol-free social events, employers pave the way for a more inclusive and communicative workplace. These events not only encourage conversation among co-workers but also foster a long-term, sustainable work culture that values the well-being of all employees.

The trend of alcohol-free socials not only keeps pace with societal shifts but also aligns with the modern workplace’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. It ensures that every employee feels comfortable and valued, regardless of their beverage preferences. As we embrace Sober October, the importance of alcohol-free workplace socials becomes clearer than ever.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.