I work in an office for an international company in the IT department. I work as a software engineer and our company has a bit of a reputation for being 'lax'. On Fridays, it is common that multiple team members including the team leader will go out for a pint of alcohol or two (nothing that gets them too drunk or tipsy) at lunch time. This will be done out of the office, during their allocated lunch hour, and will disturb no one who is staying in the office or finishes their lunch early.

In my office, we have my team and my team leader (who on this Friday was away for the day on annual leave). We also have some other teams, such as our network security team, and we have the director of IT and her assistant, whom can be thought of as 'above' my team leader in terms of rank.

This last Friday, the director of IT and her assistant were both drinking wine in the office to the point of inebriation; they were singing very raucously and distracting other people including myself. One man actually stormed out of the office because he was unable to work with the noise. Had I not had my headphones on, I would probably have done the same.

I would like to complain about this behaviour, but I'm unsure of who to go to. I fear that if I go to my team leader he will be wary of complaining about his superiors, and the heirarchy is not clear because I am unsure of the business structure outside of the director if IT (and how to get in contact with HR). I don't want to get the two in deep crap, I'd just rather let them know that I (or, rather, an anonymous employee) thought the conduct was inappropriate and unprofessional and distracted me (and others) from my duties, to the point where others left the office to work elsewhere.

What do I do?

  • We can't answer what you're supposed to do, even less who in your company you should approach about this. We could answers questions like "How do I make the case against inebriation in the office to HR?" but as-written this is off-topic.
    – Lilienthal
    Dec 27, 2015 at 16:13

2 Answers 2


So, really the problem is loud behavior from a senior colleague.

If you have a look through most of the question on this site that ask "how do I complain about this behaviour", the key missing competent is usually "have you talked to the person you're complaining about"?

So talk to them. State that you found they were being too loud and you couldn't get on with your work. Perhaps ask that they book a conference room next time.

Perhaps you've tried talking to them and it didn't work. Perhaps this a serious problem and you don't feel able to resolve it on your own. Talk to your team leader. Someone was being to disruptive for you to work, this is your team leader's problem.

Incidentally, don't jump above your team lead. It won't be appreciated by anyone and it misses the possibility that your team leader is probably the best person to have that informal conversation with the director of IT. Even if this is a matter for formal bureaucracy and complex hierarchy navigation, your team leader is better placed to manage that for you.

I'm not really in a position to judge, so this comment may be nonsense. But there is the possibility that to fit in your workplace's culture you need to be capable of chilling out a bit on the afternoon before a bank holiday weekend.

  • 1
    The problem is loud behaviour but I also question whether it is appropriate to be drinking alcohol in the office and getting drunk to the point where your behaviour is affected, honestly. I don't consider it a serious problem yet, but I don't think I would want a repeat performance of Queen's "I Would Do Anything For Love" ft my IT director and co. Especially not a slurred repeat performance. May 3, 2015 at 10:35
  • 1
    RE Your comment, the culture is definitely lax and perhaps I am being a bit uptight, but if I have a colleague storming out of the office because of how distracting it was I think it's safe to say a) it isn't commonplace, b) part of the culture or c) just me being uptight May 3, 2015 at 10:39
  • 1
    I concentrated on the noise because that's the bit that affected you and that you have legitimate reason to complain about. The drinking in the workplace may just be part of the culture. You spell like you're from the UK and this weekend is a long one, so there may be the element of "special occasion", as I've suggested. I think your team leader is best to judge, but you need to prepare for them to be unsympathetic to the more moralistic of your concerns.
    – Nathan
    May 3, 2015 at 10:42
  • I am from the UK, and it is an especially long weekend for me, so good guess. I will go to my team leader and see what he says. Thank you :) May 3, 2015 at 10:43
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    What's appropriate is a problem for the management chain, not for you. Focus on the specific issue that interferes with your work -- the loudness, not the drinking. It's legitimate to say (preferably when they're sober) "hey, things were getting rather loud last Friday and I wasn't the only one having trouble focusing on work ax a result. Could you possibly close the door and/or hold it down to conversational volume in the future?" That gives them space to say "oops" or "special occasion, won't happen again", or even "oh, right, we had intended to tell everyone they could leave early!"
    – keshlam
    May 3, 2015 at 14:54

I've worked in companies where a Friday "liquid lunch" was the culture, and I've worked as a theatre musician where an evening performance preceded by a matinee often was sloppy due to the 'tween shows visit to the pub.

Only you can judge how sensible it would be for YOU to be the "whistle-blower". Your headphones seem a good idea!

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