If I bring my personal laptop to my company's year end party, will it make me an outsider? Also, I will need to ask the hotel staff for WiFi. I'm not seeking attention, I have some personal documents to prepare and I'm seriously busy.

I'm sure that nobody else will bring laptops there but seriously I need to. It's not against the company policy.

Any idea on this one, will that hit the threshold of being an outsider? This is clearly something which is not against company policy but company-culture (non officially defined) will may overlap this.

  • Just to clarify... you are asking whether it is ok to do personal work at the company party. Are you not planning on socializing? Are you expected to be there? Are you unable to be excused from attending the party?
    – Kent A.
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 6:56
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    Don't go to the party if you have other stuff to do.
    – Maarten
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 7:01
  • @Maarten Need to go to the party as well. Because there are few parties for a year. Good food, etc etc. So need to have that, as well as I need to have my personal things as well. Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 7:04
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    "So need to have that". No. No you don't. You want to have that. I suppose the proverb "you can't have your cake and eat it too" is new to you? If you're so utterly busy then you're booking yourself too tight and you need to make sacrifices, not going to this party being one of them. Physically being in the room and taking advantage of the free food is not attending a party. It's disrespectful and that goes for every type of party, which means this also isn't really workplace-specific.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 9:57
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    If you need a polite solution, either tell the people beforehand that you might be late and finish your personal work before going to the party or excuse yourself early and finish it afterwards. I go to the most laptop-prone office parties (computer science university department) and even here it would be seen as incredibly rude to sit in a corner staring at the laptop just taking breaks to get more food. It is less rude to not attend than to ruin the mood for everyone else and create awkward situations for others trying to socialise with you.
    – skymningen
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 10:32

3 Answers 3


Obviously, I don't know your company, but I can't imagine a scenario where sitting at a company party working on your laptop would be better than excusing yourself. People might notice if you don't attend and wonder why, but you working at the party will be noticed and could really distract your colleagues or superiors from enjoying the party. Find out if you can gracefully opt out of the party. If participation is mandatory, actually participate (you don't need to drink, in fact, you shouldn't anyway) and leave as early as acceptable to conduct the urgent business.


OP has indicated that the party is optional, but he wants to attend.

You need to sort out your priorities. You can't have both the party and working on something. Decide what is more important to you and do that. Don't work at a company party. You wouldn't get done much of the work anyway.

  • Sri Lanka, very same as Indian culture. However, is that bringing a laptop is normal in USA? But bring the phone is oky right ? Since I don't own an expensive mobile device to have all the applications and functions that laptop provides. And the party is not mandatory. It's optional, however the fact is need to enjoy the party too, because good food, good music etc. Since there are few parties for a one year. Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 7:09
  • You need to sort out your priorities. Apparently, you have something urgent to do but want to go to the party. You can only do one of those, not both.
    – user29390
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 7:10
  • Hi, and what about the US work culture ? is that also same ? Nobody bring laptops to the party? Just curious, I think I got the answer, I can mark it 'accepted' however keeping few hours. Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 7:16
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    I have never worked in the US. I wouldn't want to work for a company where people work at parties. I would consider having no parties at all preferable to that.
    – user29390
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 7:18

No, don't work at company parties, it is strange and it will draw attention.

  • Go enjoy the party and postpone your personal tasks, if you really want to go. Try to do your other tasks another time.
  • Stay home because you are too busy, and ask your colleagues later on how the party was.
  • Work for a few hours and join the party later.

I'd go for the latter, if I really wanted to go to the party.

  • Strange in USA too? Just curious, not a part of the question. Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 7:56
  • @sandundhammika: I think it would be strange in most cultures - the point of a party is to socialize with others, and being there, but being unapprochable is at odds with this.
    – sleske
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 9:04
  • @sleske , for me it's different. Being social does not get me any new technical opportunities, in here, may true in US or something like that. I know clearly they don't have much to offer. So pointless to get socialized there, but only for getting NOT noticed. However food is great, the reason why I'm going. Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 9:08
  • @sandundhammika: Hm, in my experience new contacts are always a benefit, but that's your call to make. If you are just going for the food, excusing yourself for the work is probably the best option.
    – sleske
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 9:09
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    +1 for the part in bold. There's no reason you have to be at the party from the moment it starts until the moment it ends. Show up a little late, enjoy it for an hour or two, leave early.
    – John Feltz
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 12:57

Bringing a personal laptop is no problem at all - I do it all the time. However, actually using that laptop is more tricky.

As already indicated in the other answers, working at the party where others can see you will come over as strange - it's a party, you are supposed to socialize, eat good food and have fun. Sitting in front of your laptop and working will at least make you look strange.

My personal advice would be:

  • If you only need to work for a short time (15-30 minutes), and cannot do the work at another time, then briefly leave the party, try to find a quiet spot, do the work and come back. If it is a hotel, maybe you can sit in the lobby, or nicely ask staff if you can use an empty meeting room. That way you do your work without annoying others. Leaving the party and coming back may look strange, too, but less strange than working in front of others - plus if the party is of the standup type, others may not even notice you were gone for a while.
  • If you need to work for hours, then there is no point in going to the party. Sitting there working while others celebrate will not only look strange, it will not be any fun for you either. So just skip the party.

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