Around the World in Office Drinking Culture

Break out your passport and join us as we take a world tour of countries with strong corporate drinking cultures.

In this article

Break out your passport and join us as we take a world tour of countries with strong corporate drinking cultures.

Wondering how you’re going to stay sober or semi-sober at your holiday work party? You’re not the only one! Lots of people feel the pressure to drink dialed up during corporate events. Alcohol is a deeply ingrained part of many workplace cultures, at the organizational level, industry level, and even national level. Let’s take a look at that last one. Break out your passport and join us as we take a world tour of countries with strong corporate drinking cultures.

United Kingdom

Employees across the pond are filling their cups with more than just tea. In Britain, booze and business bump heads regularly, with a recent think tank report finding that a whopping 40% of employees consider drinking an important part of workplace culture, and nearly half of young workers considering not drinking to be a barrier to fitting in socially at work. Blimey!


This Chinese saying, “No social ties can be formed in the absence of alcohol.” is a bit of a bummer for those of us who know otherwise. So is this Wall Street Journal perspective: “At a Chinese banquet, a person who does not touch alcohol at all while others are drinking is regarded more or less as an outcast.” Idioms and anecdotes aside, alcohol has a definite presence in Chinese business etiquette, with toasting often used to seal deals.


Alcohol plays a role in corporate bonding. According to BBC, in Japan “the best way to offer an employee feedback is simple: take them out drinking.” Yikes! The alcoholics in recovery among us would beg to differ. On a brighter note, the government recently issued a crackdown outlining specific goals to knock a few percentage points off the rate of excessive drinkers by 2020.


The corporate drinking culture in Korea is intense, but they’ve recently dropped the “forced after-hours drinking“. Seems like a wise move. The demanding drinking standards have also relaxed as professional women have climbed the ranks and influenced businesses to tone it down. Women in the workplace have made creative ways to cut back mainstream, like pouring drinks into flower pots. Hey, we get it. Do what you gotta do.


Alcohol is causing some chaos at offices down under. As reported by the Australian Drug Foundation alcohol abuse costs employers over $6 billion per year and even messes with sacred Aussie mateships; 1 in 10 workers reported being negatively affected by a coworker’s misuse. Crikey!

That’s all for our world tour for now. Hopefully, that sheds some perspective on your office holiday party. If not, we’ve got your back; check out our secrets to enjoying holiday work parties sober.

A future free of addiction is in your hands

Recover from addiction at home with medication, community, and support—from the nonjudmental experts who really care.

People who read this article also browsed:

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. Workit Health, Inc. and its affiliated professional entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. By using this site, you consent to our use of cookies.