Are Your Coworkers Hungover Right Now? This Study Might Tell You

Personally, I’ve never gone to work hungover; some people do, though, so in case you're curious about whether your coworkers might be hungover right at this very second, this one’s for you. Walt Hickey at FiveThirtyFive recently ran a little experiment to find out how frequently full-time American workers arrive at work hungover, and the results are… somewhat surprising. It’s worth noting that the sample size Hickey used is sort of small — but even so, it gives us an interesting window into the hungover lives of U.S. full-timers.

Before Hickey conducted his study, there was a little bit of data already available on the subject. A study conducted by Blowfish, for example, found that 50 percent of Americans out of a sample size of 5,249 have been hungover at work; 25 percent have been late to work because of a hangover; and 20 percent have called in sick because of a hangover (presumably the remaining five percent have never combined hangovers with work). Additionally, they found the top five professions most likely to be hungover on the job are waiters, realtors, people who work in sales, police officers, and chefs.

However, as Hickey noted, it’s worth bearing in mind that Blowfish is a hangover remedy; as such, it has an ulterior motive—to sell stuff—and may not be entirely trustworthy. So, Hickey decided to run a poll of his own with SurveyMonkey Audience on December 11 to collect some data himself about how frequently people arrive at work hungover. 1,000 people responded, of which 571 said they worked full time. 74 percent of the full timers said they never go to work hungover, while 20 percent said it happens less than once a month.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that that leaves us with about six percent who work while hungover at least once a month — and in some extreme cases, as many as 20 times per month. Hickey is careful to note that we can’t go wild drawing conclusions from this six percent, owing to the small sample size; we can, however, “use those people to get a ballpark estimate, and take that estimate with a grain of salt.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 119.4 million Americans work full time; so, using the percentages gained by Hickey’s SurveyMonkey Audience poll, we get the following figures:

  • 23,665,080 people work while hungover less than once a month;
  • 2,340,249 do it once a month;
  • 1,492,500 do it twice per month;
  • And so on, with decreasing frequency the more times per month people report arriving at work feeling a little worse for the wear. There's a handy-dandy chart over at FiveThirtyEight; check it out to see the percentages for people who show up to work hungover three or more (and in extreme cases, up to 20) times per month.

After a little more number-crunching, Hickey determined that the average full time American employee works 220 eight-hour days a year and 18.3 days per month. This means that the number of people working while hungover on any given day can be estimated at 1,946,677—or about 1.6 percent of the full-time work force.

Is anyone else curious about whether these numbers might differ in other months? December tends to be full of boozy parties; I’d be curious to see whether people self-report differently during less party-tastic times. But in any event, think about those numbers for a moment: Approximately 2 million Americans are sitting at their desks feeling a little… well, less than 100 percent right now. Look over to your left. Look over to your right. Look at yourself. Are you one of that 1.6 percent? If so, sorry you’re not feeling great — make sure you keep yourself hydrated and eat an avocado or two.

Images: Flora/Flickr; Giphy (2)