Time for tea? Five tips for the office tea round

Office workers around the country dread their turn to make the tea. So here are our top tips to help you get the most out of teatime

By Tim Gibson

Oh cripes. It’s that time again. You’ve finished the latest job on your to-do list and reach for a celebratory slurp of your tea mug. But your heart sinks as you tilt it lip-wards. Rather than refreshing warm liquid, you realise it’s full of cold milky yuck, or, worse still, nothing. 

Now’s the moment where you look, furtively, at your colleagues. Can you get away with sneaking to the office kitchen and making a refill just for yourself? In your heart of hearts, you know that won’t do. Everyone’s taken their turn to make you a brew throughout the day. It’s very much your turn to step up and boil the kettle. 

Sound familiar? The office tea round is one of life’s necessary rituals. It’s a reflection of the democracy of a working environment, where everyone takes their turn. So how do you survive the daily travail? Here are our tips to help.

1. Get in early

The longer you put off your turn, the more onerous it becomes. By mid-morning, you’ll be stuck into work and won’t relish the interruption of making 17 cups of tea, to different strengths, some with skimmed and some with semi-skimmed milk, and all with varying amounts of sugar. 

Far better to be the early bird. Make the first cuppa of the day, and it’s over and done with. Then you can sit back and enjoy the steady flow of refreshing liquid that comes your way for the following seven hours, secure in the knowledge that you’ve Done Your Part and are now beyond reproach. 

Unless you have a policy of two tea rounds per person per day, of course. In which case, you’ve only yourself to blame. 

2. Make a list

It’s amazing how few people think to undertake this simple task. Make a list of the hot-drink preferences of everyone in the office: a simple chart detailing who takes sugar, how much and what type of milk they prefer, and whether they’re on caffeinated or decaff, or prefer the taste of Earl Grey. Then stick it above the kettle, or on a convenient noticeboard. 

That way, everyone knows what’s required when teatime comes around. So the only question to ask is, “Who wants a brew?” And everyone knows the answer to that one…

3. Have a policy on exceptions

Are you the person who will only drinkloose-leaf oolong, which has to be brewed for at least six minutes and served in a hand-crafted cup from the local pottery? If so, it may be best to withdraw from the tea round and make your own. 

But you’ll need to know whether that exempts you from making everyone else a cuppa while your fancy tea brews. So ask the question – or better still, just expect to take your turn in the kitchen. After all, you’ll be in there long enough…

4. Set up a kitty

If you’re lucky, your employer will provide the basics for hot-drink preparation: instant coffee, teabags, milk and sugar. But you may decide to share the cost of additional items, such as decaffeinated tea and coffee, or specialist blends. You may also want to keep a biscuit tin handy, and ensure it’s always topped up with chocolate digestives and custard creams.

The best way to organise this is a kitty, with each person contributing an agreed amount on a regular basis. A couple of quid a month should cover it, and ensure teatime is that little bit more enjoyable.

5. Use teatime as a bonding opportunity

Everyone needs a drink. So why not make a virtue out of necessity and turn teatime into a treat? You could start a tea- or coffee-tasting club, working your way through different varieties to expand your horizons, and keeping tasting notes that you can compare with colleagues. 

How about taking it in turns to bake biscuits or cakes, maybe following themes like “favourite flavours”, “superheroes” or “childhood memories”? That’ll provide a chance to learn more about each other, and enjoy the fruits of your efforts in the kitchen, too. 

Some offices set up book clubs as a way of aiding staff bonding. This seems like the perfect activity to combine with a shared enjoyment of tea or coffee. Simply brew up once a week for a cuppa and a literary chat. You’ll soon see a whole new side to the people you sit with every day.

Published: 6 December 2018

© 2018 Just Recruitment Group Ltd. 

Or would you like some help with your employee team building read our - How to create the perfect team-building exercise 
 

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