Booze at work? Ideal.

In the news, an mp has been arrested in a bar in the house of commons and critics are now questioning if having alcohol at their place of work sends the wrong message.

Obviously im not an mp, but I have spent many years working in an academic institution where there is a subsidised bar, which I found to be absolutely vital for work, for several reasons.

The obvious reason is for socialising. I have friends in the bar. When I’ve had a long horrible day in the lab, a pint or 4 after work with my drinking buddies was just the ticket. In moderation, of course.

Britain has a pub culture. That is inescapable. There will always be people who choose to use the pub in the same way I do occasionally, and having it subsidised was even better.

The nifty thing about the work bar, however, was that it provided a neutral ground for academics to speak. And lubricated them slightly too. Booze limbered up the tongue, and the location got the people together.

I can’t tell you how many awkward working relationships were overcome over a few pints in the work bar, how many research hurdles were vaulted because a student with some dutch courage felt more able to speak their ideas to their supervisor on neutral ground. Rival academics with conflicting theories hashing out their ideas without hostility. Chats with academics outside the field that inspired your own research, that would never otherwise have happened.

The pub, as much as the university, was a hotbed of great research.

Im not going to claim that the bar is absolutely necessary for progress, but it certainly helped me and the academics at my institution.

If you take the subsidised bars out of the workplace to stop the drunks, you can’t predict the damaging effect it might have on the rest of the patrons.


About nicolajrolfe

Dr. Nicola J. Rolfe is currently looking for her next opportunity to make a big splash in East Kent industry.
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