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Would it be appropriate to drink alcohol during working hours if you work from home/remote work?

As responsible adults it's not unreasonable to have a glass of wine or a beer with a meal. Obviously I'm not talking about doing a round of shots with the local fraternity guys while "on the clock" but just a normal alcoholic beverage at appropriate times.

Many countries around the world have far less social stigma regarding when it is or is not appropriate to drink than here in the United States and this may affect the scenario I describe.

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    This is going to come down to your company's culture and policy if there is one. A good, simple rule would be that if you wouldn't drink during the day at work, don't do it when working from home either. Mar 2 '14 at 4:22
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    Where do you live? Where is your company based? You say that “many countries… have far less social stigma” than the U.S., but if you and your company are both in the U.S. then you’re just making excuses.
    – bdesham
    Mar 2 '14 at 13:58
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    Obligatory xkcd: xkcd.com/323 Mar 2 '14 at 20:16
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    Not wearing pants probably doesn't have an impact on your work. Being drunk almost certainly does. If you are on a phone call with someone from home they can't tell (and don't care) if you are wearing pants or not. They can tell (and do care) if you are drunk. Mar 3 '14 at 15:10
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    The lesson that comes to mind is the Exxon Valdez - 99% of the time it doesn't matter, however it's the remaining 1% that not only gets you fired but prosecuted and sent to jail. In short, if a lapse in judgment on your part cost your employer millions in losses, the fact that the drink you had at lunch had nothing to do with it might be less than persuasive to a jury. In short, don't do it. Mar 3 '14 at 20:14
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I work from home all the time - I have no other office though I do travel sometimes and work from hotel rooms, client offices, and hotel convention centres. My habit is to avoid any alcohol until my work day is over, and not to go do some more work after dinner if I had wine with dinner. This is not really because the alcohol has impaired me (I almost never have more than one drink) but more because I need to separate home and work a little. So sometimes after dinner I go back to my desk and do a little more work. But not all the time. Sometimes I have a glass of wine and sit and relax. A little partitioning is a good thing, whether your tendency is to underwork or to overwork.

If your culture would be cool with an office worker going out and having a beer at lunch on a hot day, and then coming back to the office for a solid afternoon's work, then sure, have a beer at home at lunchtime sometimes. But many offices would not be ok with that, and I suggest that maintaining that separation will be healthy for you. Work till your work is done, then don't work. My exception is not the beer at lunch, but the occasional scotch from the open bar at the reception while I network with peers and colleagues. If you're not sure whether you can handle it or not, I would say don't do it.

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    +1 for making mention of "If your culture would be cool with an office worker going out and having a beer at lunch on a hot day..". I've worked places where a lunchtime beer was absolutely commonplace, and others where nobody would ever do it. Mar 3 '14 at 1:15
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    I used to work at a company where the owner would take us out to lunch and get us wasted. I'm not talking about polite drunkenness here, I'm talking a crew of SQL developers who can't walk straight. I found this irresponsible and suddenly became "an alcoholic" and "couldn't" participate any more. They didn't expect us to work after a lunch like that, but I found it completely unprofessional and would not participate. From what I'm told, this was not unusual in the finance industry back then.
    – Jasmine
    Nov 21 '14 at 18:07
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Your company probably has a written employee policy manual (in the United States at least). I would almost guarantee there is a written policy about drinking during working hours. That would also apply to teleworking.

If your company doesn't have a written policy about drinking during working hours, consult with your HR department. Expect them to say something to the effect of no drinking on the job.

From the company's perspective, if you are impaired, you open the company up to significant liability.

Let me propose an extremely unlikely scenario. Your company has no written policy concerning drinking. You are working from home. No, you are really at the sports bar working, but having a cold one (several) while working. Something comes up that requires your physical presence at the office. You make the decision to drive. You get into a wreck on the way to the office. You get injured and injure someone else.

Who is responsible for repairing the damages to your vehicle? If your injuries are serious enough for you to be out of work, are you entitled to workman's comp? Who is responsible for repairing the damages to any other property you may have hit during the wreck? And who pays for the medical care of the person you injured?

I am not a lawyer, so I can't answer these questions. I do know that these questions will come up. I have seen it many times (I used to work in a hospital).

Best policy, don't drink during working hours. Save that for when you are at home (not working) or with friends (and a designated driver).

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    100% agree with this answer. I worked from home for many years for a fortune 100 company and I always treated the hours during work as though I was at the office. For me this meant no long lunches, do as much work as possible during the office hours and absolutely no drinking. Alcohol impairs your decision making ability, changes your mood and does not improve your work performance. I don't think there are many employers who would like the idea of your drinking "at work" and you are "at work" whether you are a remote employee or in the office. Mar 2 '14 at 15:08
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    Strongly recommend that you do not ask your company. No good can come of this. If you aren't sure if it's okay, don't do it, and realize that just by asking you may be viewed in a very negative light by the company.
    – jmac
    Mar 2 '14 at 23:47
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    That is a very good point. You can ask HR for a current copy of the employee manual, which shouldn't be viewed in a negative light. Mar 4 '14 at 1:50
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    Ironically, I am pretty sure our company has a policy, but we also have a keg-orator that we refill about once a week (2 taps). So a blend of office culture and company rules. Dec 2 '15 at 15:43
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Um.

Why wouldn't you just take the alcohol - don't impair yourself, and don't get an addiction - and not tell work?

You don't need to say you drink alcohol at work. If you think you will do this, then the simple solution is to not drink alcohol until you are more mature.

If you have low self control and one drink invariably leads to three, then don't do this.

If this will lead to you drinking alcohol every day, then don't do this.

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I think it depends on the type of work, the amount of communication and most importantly, the consequences of any communication.

For example, if you are a 9-1-1 operator working remotely somehow, then you could never have a drop (i.e., very important consequences to the communication). On the other hand, if you are coding some large project working solo - not communicating to anyone - & you are not sending out the finished product that day, then I think the consequences are pretty low if you are responsible drinker (i.e., not getting sloshed). I've had a six pack before doing that type of work

It's all about the consequences. Truck driver obviously can never drink b/c an accident could happen and someone could die and whole death could be blamed on negligent drinking. Someone designing a web-page, or writing a novel, pretty low consequences - other than any business/professional consequences if you can't drink responsibly and get your work done.

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The safe answer is, "don't". Is there any good that could come from drinking during work hours under these circumstances? I'm hard pressed to think of any. There are many possible negatives. If you drink enough to impair your abilities in any way, then at the least you are not giving the company a fair day's work for your pay. People who have had too much to drink often don't realize that they are impaired: self-appraisal is not highly accurate in this area.

If the company has a policy of drinking during work hours, then I'd say certainly don't. No matter how foolish or unnecessary you think this policy is, you're just setting yourself up for trouble if you break it.

If the company has no policy against it, and you are the sort of person who can have one drink and stop, then maybe no harm done.

But in general, one of my philosophies of life is: I don't ask, "What's the most dangerous, irresponsible thing I can do and still come out okay?" Rather, I try to stay as far away from dangerous and irresponsible things as I can.

For the record, I presently work from home. I don't think I have ever consumed alcohol during working hours, regardless of company policy. But then I don't drink very often on non-working hours, I'll sometimes have a glass of wine in the evening, that's about it.

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