When colleagues meet outside of work, to socialise and get to know each other better, it contributes to team building and creates a valuable feeling of togetherness.
Swedes have coined the term “afterwork”, an expression using the English language, despite the fact that it is rarely heard outside of Sweden.
Afterwork refers to colleagues spending time together outside of their working schedules. It is most commonly associated with drinks at a bar, immediately after work.
A better workplace environment
It should not seem off limits to socialise with colleagues. It can even go so far as to contribute to a better working environment and increased productivity.
In school, friendship is seen as an important part of a young person’s development and well-being. The same applies to sports teams.
Yet, for many, this behaviour does not continue into the workplace. Some can even see afterwork as a forced activity.
A natural part of work life
While some may feel that they do not want to mix their work life with their private life, others see it as a natural part of their working life. By spending time together in the workplace, you are already building relationships with each other, and it makes sense to continue to nurture those relationships outside of the office.
Being friends with your colleagues is more likely something that can lead to you being better at your job.
What the numbers say
A survey in 2017 by YouGov for Metro asked Swedes how often they spend time with their colleagues outside of work. The results of the survey showed that regular afterworks were not very common.
Only 8% answered that they meet their colleagues privately once or more a week. 15% answered that they do afterwork sometime every 3 months. 25% said they were social with colleagues outside of work less than once every half-year.
Psychologist Oskar Henrikson sees the results as an indication of what Swedes actually think of their workplaces.
“If everyone had lovely workplaces where everyone thrived then I believe that one automatically becomes better friends with their colleagues and even meet during free time. If one spends time with their colleagues it is a sign that one thrives at work”, Henrikson told Metro.
Alcohol and work
There is a difference between socialising outside of work as a way to improve relations, and heading to a bar every Friday.
Spending time together doesn’t have to mean drinking alcohol and staying out late. Employees at Swedish bank Nordea play indoor hockey as a way to socialise together.
Attitudes towards an alcohol-based afterwork are changing. Although drinking may be seen as the easiest way for people to socialise, it is more and more common to see colleagues hanging out together away from the bar and the office.
There is a range of activities that people can choose, such as cooking together, going to the theatre, or playing sports.
Building relationships with your colleagues can have a very positive effect on how happy you are at work, as well as how a team works together as a whole.
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