Last night I attended an annual event with 500 of my closest friends and colleagues! That's a lot of people in one room, and a huge contrast to work events held by my previous employer. As a smaller, or "boutique" consulting firm, we would fly all of the Melbournians to Sydney, meet up with our colleagues and proceed to eat and drink until we
fell down. Simple as that!
My new employer a "wholly owned subsidiary" of an "Australian icon" holds an event in Melbourne and again in Sydney with ONLY a few hundred people invited at each location. Where before I knew everyone in attendance, now I don't even know everyone on my table.
Another difference is the feeling of duty of care and responsibility. As a manager, I find myself looking out for my staff members and colleagues. I'm also a little embarrassed at my almost sickening urge to make sure my stakeholders see me having fun. I think I just want them to see that we can be human beings, and that we have a personality outside of work.
The most affirming and comforting discovery of the night was seeing how many people have opted for either moderation or abstinence regarding alcohol. On my table alone there were three non-drinkers (including myself) and one very moderate drinker. Work events in the past have been triggers for illness and uncomfortable silences between workmates, not to mention hangovers and empty wallets.
The only thing that has remained the same is the number of people who "only smoke when I drink" thronging around the front doors of the venue under the guidance and encouragement of the professional smokers. My suit smells just from my short walk through the cloud of secondary smoke.
I had a great time, and I didn't see an unhappy face in the crowd. Next year, if the band/dj is better, I might even dance!