The politics of the office tea round

Coffee drinking could be overtaking the office tea round as workers search for a caffeine jolt, but the hunt for a clean tea mug still continues in many offices. Freelance journalist Caroline Bullock explores the politics and psychology of the tea round.

According to research, when it comes to countering the afternoon energy slump, office workers are switching off the office kettle and opting for High Street coffee.

It seems the baristas have raised the bar and our expectations, rendering the cracked mugs and amateur efforts from colleagues increasingly redundant. Yet beyond an improved taste and greater dent in the wallet, it’s a move with broader implications, notably the threat to the office tea round.

While critics claim the politics and pettiness of this enduring ritual make it irrelevant in the modern workplace, for me it’s a process with a purpose.

For a start, office life has always involved a degree of artifice, notably the falsehood that everyone is part of one equitable and harmonious team. It’s a mantra crudely reinforced in various ways: the shared corporate values, the away days and secret Santas to name a few.

more on