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Does COVID Mean the End of Tea Rounds?

Does COVID Mean the End of Tea Rounds?
18 August 2020 | Updated 25 August 2020

An undeniable staple of UK office culture, extra hygiene measures in workplaces to prevent COVID transmission may temporarily spell the end of the communal office tea and coffee round.

According to research commissioned by outsourced communications provider Moneypenny, tea rounds are being called into question by those who have returned to offices. 

In a survey of 1,000 office workers, 48 per cent said they will make teas and coffees for their colleagues, however, of those, 40 per cent will make teas and coffees only for colleagues that are close to them and they trust them. 

15 per cent of those questioned said that their management does not allow them to make tea or coffee for their colleagues and 38 per cent strictly stated they will not do tea rounds at all. 

There are regional variations, with over half of East England office workers say they will now only make drinks for themselves, in contrast with the West Midlands, where 42 per cent are most likely to do the rounds for their colleagues. 


Tea Map

Picture: A graphic demonstrating the areas where survey respondents feel strongly about making or not making hot drinks for colleagues


Sharing Equipment and Abiding by Social Distancing


When it comes to abiding by social distancing in general, 16 per cent of survey respondents said that they still don’t trust their colleagues to social distance in the office, with Scotland’s workers being the least trusting. 

Those in the North East were the most trusting of their colleagues, with a huge 64 per cent saying they trusted their teammates to keep to strict guidelines.

A further 11 per cent said that they would report those that didn’t comply with the social distance rules when in the office, with the West Midlands having the highest number of workers willing to report those that don’t keep to the new policies. 

The overall feeling is fairly mixed according to this particular research, with an equal number of workers flitting between being fine with sharing equipment and refusing to share office equipment and stationery. Some offices have even gone as far as banning the sharing of equipment completely, with 31 per cent of those surveyed saying their management would not allow it. 


What are the Rules Regarding Tea Rounds and Shared Kitchen Facilities? 


The government’s published document “Working safely during COVID-19 in offices and contact centres” doesn’t specifically address making drinks for colleagues in offices. Nor is there much detail on how to treat shared kitchen facilities other than frequent cleaning, staggering break times and reconfiguring seating and tables to maintain spacing and reduce face-to-face interactions.

What the document does encourage is for workers to bring their own food, and to stagger break times. Moneypenny’s study highlighted that 61 per cent of workers have already been introduced to staggered start, break and finish times, in order to keep workers away from each other as much as possible.

You can view the study in full here.


Picture: A photograph of a tea cup

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 18 August 2020


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