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Knoxville’s Office Kegerator Service Raises Questions About Drinking on the Job

by Cedric Dent

November 10, 2022
Kegerator with a tap for the workplace.

Knoxville saw a new keg service come to the fore in 2022, bringing changes to workplace culture, and new questions about drinking on the job. Though the service is new, Knoxville knows the business well: Knox Brew Hub. Its owner, Zack Roskop, introduced a kegerator for the office. It’s a product expected to improve the logistics and, thereby, the access to alcohol in the workplace. While it might sound exciting to some at first, consider what ramifications there might be. Could this end up being make-or-break for the functional alcoholic among us? 

Keep in mind: this also comes at the height of changes to general workplace culture. The office has emerged from the pandemic with a host of adaptations. The hybrid work environment – let alone the remote work model – has already been a significant change. The workforce appears to also be making major demands for all manner of new accommodations besides wages and benefits. Dress codes are disappearing in sectors that previously swore by the suit, tie and skirt. Tattoos and piercings are proving increasingly common in the office, too. For some, alcohol might be a logical next step in simply loosening things up a bit more. For others on the other hand, it may actually be a bridge too far. 

What Beer at Work Means for Those in Recovery

Alcohol use disorder is already hard enough to kick. Those in recovery also have to work like anyone else. If their employer makes alcohol easily accessible in the office, that could be very problematic. Those in recovery not just from alcohol but from any substance have to be hyper conscious of triggers. They’re constantly watching for things that might lead them to slip. 

Falling off the wagon often occurs after seeing or smelling alcoholic beverages. The familiarity of these drinks reminds those in recovery of what they’re missing. Since substance use disorders are chronic conditions, there’s often a physiological desire that comes with this. They may be even more likely to succumb to that temptation when they encounter it somewhere they didn’t expect to find it like the workplace. 

Many others who aren’t in recovery and are excited to see alcohol come to the workplace are actually functional alcoholics, too. You probably wouldn’t already know who these people are yet either. They work hard to mask their habit. To them, this is a golden opportunity to hide it and still indulge during the day. That experience may very well tip them over the edge also. 

If you or someone you know can’t stop drinking, go to Landmark Recovery of Knoxville or call 865.448.5174

Kegerator Leases for the Office 

Roskop also founded Knox Brew Tours and served as the former president of Knoxville Area Brewers Association. Locally, he’s one of the people to watch in the alcoholic beverages space and has been for a while. The new service Knox Brew Hub offers allows people to rent or lease a kegerator – a refrigerator for kegged beer. It can be just as easily set up in the break room as at a party. The problem Roskop intended to solve with this was an apparently common observation that people were interested in seeing alcohol vending in the workplace but weren’t willing to buy big equipment for such a thing or pay anyone to go pick up beer. 

“I started thinking about how there’s a lot of offices downtown, and there’s a lot of businesses that want to be competitive when it comes to young talent,” Roskop explained. “One trend that you’re seeing in bigger cities is offices that will close at 4 on Friday and have a staff happy hour, or they’ll have beer in the office because beer is coming more acceptable.” 

What’s a Kegerator? 

This doesn’t involve hand-pumped beer. It’s supposed to be a more professional setup that Knox Brew Hub employees can install onsite for you. It’s designed to store beer and refrigerate it at the same time without the need for ice or cold packs. Knox Brew Hub’s kegerators are equipped with a CO2 tank and a mount for a tap system stacked on top. The latter would look just like what you see bar tenders pour your drink from.  

“It just plugs in,” Roskop told Knox News. “So, you’ve got fresh, crisp, non-spoiling, cold beer forever until that keg is blown. […] And you can rent it for your party. We’ll drop it off, and then eight hours later, we’ll pick it up.” 

Office Culture Concerns for Alcohol 

Businesses can rent out these kegerators for their offices for around $100 per month. At the time this was reported by Knox News, though, pricing was still in flux. Delivery was expected to be free, though. At the time, Roskop was already boasting of an architecture firm, a marketing firm and a media company all eager to get started. The rental requires a refundable deposit and an initial setup fee, too. 

 Of course, it takes less than 10 seconds to think of several workplaces that should probably avoid this kind of availability for alcoholic beverages. Law enforcement and healthcare providers, for example, are entire sectors that should probably abstain. In essence, employers have to be okay with seeing impaired judgment on the job.  

Another issue is peer pressure because, of course, some may feel like the culture is pushing them to drink. The rising popularity of mocktails is generally credited with saving people from the social pressure of having to drink when they don’t want to. Many who enjoy mocktails are actually people who do drink occasionally but don’t want to feel pressured to drink more than they’re comfortable having. Others who indulge in no- and low-alcohol beverages, however, include those in recovery. The workplace likely isn’t a place they expected to encounter this problem. It’s a temptation for which they may not be prepared.  

Alcohol as a Team Building Incentive 

Hive is a user-driven project management platform that also tracks labor market trends. Hive has seen fit to address the growing trend of alcohol in the workplace or the consideration thereof. Among workforce demands amid the Great Resignation countless perks and social influences. There’s a greater emphasis on culture fit now than ever, too. Alcohol is primarily showing up in the office, however, as a happy hour that starts near the end of the day on Fridays.  

“One of the most obvious benefits of a Friday 5 PM Happy Hour is that alcohol is a natural aid to socialization and team ‘bonding,’” according to Hive, “alcohol definitely makes it easier to open up and communicate.” 

They add that alcohol can serve as an incentive, too. Research has revealed results that suggest incentives for employees greatly improve productivity. At the same time, though, enhancing social proximity among employees can be double-edged sword if done improperly. A 2004 study published by researchers from Cornell University suggested sexual harassment in the workplace has a strong correlation with how many alcoholic beverages male employees consume during the workday. 

Even if this doesn’t directly translate to sexual harassment complaints in your office, other women there might feel unsafe and uncomfortable. That would obviously impinge upon their productivity and quality of work. 

If you need help with an alcohol addiction contact Landmark Recovery of Knoxville

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