Whose round is it anyway?

Nick Bird – Account Director, Spreckley Scotland

There are many routines entrenched into modern office life, but none more sacred than the tea round. It’s a rite of passage that’ll test your ability to multitask, attention to detail and knack for making a good pot.

Better than that, it’s a valuable way to reveal the true nature of your colleagues. The problem is, how do you ensure you get it right without losing friends and alienating yourself from your peers? Here are the big no nos…

The fussy tea drinker – ‘I’d like half a spoon of sugar with skimmed milk. If they only have semi-skimmed, then only use half as much milk as you would otherwise. And only leave the tea bag in for no more than 20 seconds.’ This person clearly isn’t a team player and doesn’t appreciate that time is money within the business. Most certainly they should be monitored and have this factored into any review process.

People who think a rinsed cup is a clean cup – Five seconds under a running cold tap does not make for a clean mug. For those blessed with a dishwasher. Use it. For those that don’t: hot water, washing up liquid and a dry, clean tea towel do wonders. When you submit your work, you do so to the best of your ability. Why not do the same with the washing up?!

People who drink herbal tea – Should the tea bag be left in or taken out? How strong do they like it? Much like anyone faced with a daunting new prospect, please don’t be afraid to ask the critical questions to improve your knowledge base and better yourself as a person.

People who are out of sync with the tea round – Five minutes after someone returns from the kitchen with a tray laden with mugs, someone else stands up and asks if anyone wants a cuppa, with a self-satisfied little smirk on their face. Again, this person is clearly not a team player and should be flagged to senior management.

The end-of-the-day mugs – All the other mugs are stacked up in the dishwasher and you’re left with a choice of either the thimble-sized tea cup or the mug that’s as big as your head (we’re looking at you Sports Direct mug).

The person who asks for water – The tea round is reserved for hot drinks only. Coffee is passable. A hot chocolate for a deserved member of staff can happen on the very off occasion. Asking for water – that’s just plain lazy!

Can you bring the hot water and I’ll make myself? – Simply put: no. Trust is critical in any office. You trust your staff to deliver on deadlines and projects. Why should your tea be any different?

The sneaky tea maker – Clearly this person has very little regard for his colleagues. The tea round is a trusted institution. Being in or out is a personal choice. But if you decide to remain in, you have a duty of care to fellow members. A good tea round participant thinks of others before themselves.

There’s no milk left – Arguably the biggest obstacle when it comes to tea making responsibilities. Hot water is not a substitute and neither is skimmed milk. Planning is critical to avoiding this. If you are expecting visitors be sure to order in more. Also, if you are running low, don’t remain silent. Speak up.