Should the RICS have reacted so strongly to young surveyors having a bit of fun?
I have had my fair share of stomach churning flashbacks to drunken antics. As have my friends.
One woke up in a potting shed after a 21st birthday two miles from the marquee, in a wheelbarrow wrapped in potato sacking.
Another was knocked unconscious after entering into a plate fight – yes, she really was that idiotic, and another decided they had had enough of the pub and so climbed into a wheelie bin for a two hour nap. Then there was the one who drank half a bottle of fairly liquid and set his curtains on fire.
There is also the classic unacceptable behaviour we have all been guilty of at one time in our lives – vomiting in the shrubbery, spilling red wine over parents’/friends' parents’/anyone’s parents’ carpet shouting, singing, swearing and the rest.
But what about when this behaviour transfers from your personal to professional life? As a guest at the annual RICS youth dinner last month I saw first hand what the results of letting your guard down too much can be.
When 550 young surveyors went wild in the London Marriott in Grovesnor Square they reverted back to their 16-year-old selves within an hour and a half of the first cork being popped. They must have been on a mission to get as drunk as possible in the time allowed.
Social graces flew out the window as they shrieked, screamed, sung and taunted. A friend of mine happened to be in attendance and when trying to talk to him another young man, desperate to share a joke with someone on the other side of me shoved me out of the way politely bellowing, “Come on Building. Move your arse.” Lovely.
Then came the glass breaking, chair throwing and undressing. All in the incredibly public arena of an RICS organised event. It was hard to watch because in my more sober state I knew that it wasn’t just going to be their hangovers these guys would be worrying about tomorrow.
The trouble is that when you misbehave outside of work, even if you do something horrendous, embarrassment and possibly the “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed” chat from a parent will be the worst thing that will happen as a result. Done, dusted.
Not the case when your professional reputation and that of your company is involved as the revellers found out. People will not forget bad behaviour as quickly once you have crossed the line into the world of work. The scolding email sent out by the RICS following the event proves this and there have, no doubt, been some nervous young surveyors awaiting their fate over the past three weeks.
Whether or not people agree with the circulation of the email it well and truly backfired. The RICS had not bet on the gossip circle otherwise known as the under 30’s London office workers set. All those old school and university pals sat at their desks on a Monday morning got a treat when the email was sent round like wildfire.
The result? Everyone thinks the whole thing was hilarious. Setting tables on fire? Breaking coffee tables and food fighting at a high profile work event? These guys are legends amongst their friends and acquaintances – a status that will last a lot longer than the shadow of disapproval cast over them by their bosses and RICS.
Legend status aside, I would even question whether it was even fair to send out such an email. It publicly deemed the party-goers “loud, argumentative, arrogant and downright rude”. So, they got smashed and behaved terribly and a phone call to their bosses was made, quite rightly. Most would argue that was enough.
I have to say that when I read the email I laughed, rightly or wrongly, like most people who saw it.
Some may argue that is because I am in my twenties myself and can relate to finding yourself in trouble after one drink too many but I think that the ones that should be laughing the most are the over 30s.
Surely they have all been here in the past. Drunk too much, been silly and spent the next few weeks sweating wondering how much trouble they are in and if they should start to browse the jobs pages.
They are all in a position now where they can take their drink (hopefully) and I reckon they should feel a bit sorry for the young whippersnappers. After all, who wants to have to keep a multipack of Anadin in their desk drawers, sit in meetings with the shakes and try to cover the smell of alcohol sweats with deodorant and soft mints for eight hours the following day?
See, the live of a twenty something surveyor living it up in Mayfair, drinking free booze, enjoying kisses from the opposite sex and smashing up hotels is not all fun and games.