The Work-Hours Office Party
So, your employer is catering in lunch for the company holiday celebration. How do you maintain your professional stature while lending a merry tone at the office party? It’s easy if you keep the word “appropriate” at the top of your mind.
1) Be a participant. The first step is to physically show up. It might be tempting to take advantage of quiet time at your desk to get a jump on a deadline. Resist. Your presence at the event demonstrates an ability to maintain balance: work when it’s time to work; play when it’s time to relax a little. Attendance at the office party also shows you’re a team player, willing to get acquainted with your coworkers on a less formal basis than usual work projects require.
2) Remember your organization’s dress policy. If exposed cleavage and thigh-high skirts are frowned upon on a general note, revealing party attire is not likely to be seen as a good display of judgment. Ninety-two percent of executives surveyed by The Creative Group said office party behavior can impact a worker’s career prospects. Suggestive dress can be just as damaging as over-drinking. An after-hours party may offer more leeway (still not a good place to flash skin), but the office environment calls for more subtle party dress. Better played safe than sorry.
3) Anticipate the unexpected. Consider the possibility of an unintended encounter with a prospective client on your morning coffee run. Do you really want to waste the opportunity explaining your Rudolph sweatshirt? On the other extreme, over-the-top evening attire is inappropriate at the office party when held in the company cafeteria. A sequined cocktail dress will appear out of place (because it is). If your party takes place during business hours or in the business environment, take care so you’ll be taken seriously when a business matter arises.
4) Get Colorful. Off-color jokes won’t be welcome, but some vibrance in your clothing will. It adds to the merry spirit without overstepping any lines. Incorporate more festive colors and fabrics than you would normally wear to the office. If you’re a woman who generally wears a suit to work, consider pairing it with a jewel-toned satin blouse or beaded/sequin-neck sweater in place of you typical beige silk shirt. In a business casual environment, trade your everyday cardigan for a piece with some bling — just one piece suffices. Head-to-toe glitz is for after-hours.
Guys, you might swap out the standard-issue necktie for one in a tasteful holiday hue or motif. Unless you’re in a very casual and creative work environment, however, avoid the tie with flashing illumination or audible “ho-ho-ho’s.” You’ll want to avoid wearing anything that might embarrass you if making your first introduction to the company CEO.
5) Discretion is golden. When it comes to your career, diplomacy will save the day, over and over again. Don’t let the less-formal gathering of colleagues fool you into thinking it’s a good time to tell a co-worker you think he’s “hot.” You’re on company grounds, and appropriate office manner prevails.
A cheery disposition and light-hearted engagement with coworkers will leave you remembered as the consummate professional, image & reputation intact.
Read about After-Hours Work Party style.