According to a recent study, fewer women are now socialising with their colleagues after work. Is this because of logistical or social constraints? Or is it due to the fact that the way we work is changing – becoming less a place we go to and more a thing we do (wherever, whenever), which makes the traditional "drink after work" impractical?
Whatever the reason, we do know it can be valuable for bonding with your team, networking with the right people and just making the overall work experience more enjoyable. Here's how to do it effectively...
What's it all for?
Don't just accept any invitation or create any old event. Be really clear why you're doing the socialising and who you want or need to do it with. Is there a purpose, like the forming of a new team, or is it purely for you and your networking? It may simply be that you want to reconnect with a few colleagues? Be selective and prioritise.
Lines in the sand
You know what is and isn't possible in terms of your own schedule. Be clear with yourself and others – don't let people fall into stereotypes of who gets invited to what (e.g. only men to sporting events, only women to gallery events). If you are worried that you won't get invited because of your constraints, be upfront that you'd like to be invited to everything, as there may be times when logistics work out that you can go. In any case, it's great to know what's going on.
Share it out (thoughtfully)
Make sure others who couldn't make it, get to hear about it and can share in some of the fun, even if it's the summary. That doesn't mean sharing the worst photos on Facebook or the direct comments out of context on Snapchat. Be careful – would you want any of it on the front page of a newspaper? If the answer is no, don't share it (and probably don't do it in the first place).
Mix it up
Socialising is no longer just a drink after work: it's much more global, it takes so many more forms and digital enables us to connect with more people and be more creative. Take advantage. Create or take part in a sporting challenge, connect people for lunch in different offices via Skype, have a team chat around the world at a fixed time using Yammer. And don't get stuck in a rut of the same thing at the same time every month.
How much is enough?
You don't want to be known first and foremost as the party person in the team, so think ahead about how much of it to do such that it enhances your brand, without detracting from it. Don't go to everything – even if you can or want to. Keep that element of surprise, and something of you in reserve. A bit of mystery never went amiss.