As a Canadian import to the UK, I am fascinated by British tea culture in the work place. It is at the intersection of culture and company culture.

Working in the USA, instant coffee was my go-to; a freshly brewed pot of filter coffee if I was lucky. In my office in India, a chaiwallah brought us small glasses of fresh aromatic chai. In France, we drank espessos from a vending machine. In China, we had weak green tea in paper cups and bottles of coca-cola by the case.

Tea and me

In the UK, I drink builders tea. A splash of milk and one sugar, please!

The ritual of the tea round is the heartbeat of the workday. Each person takes their turn to collect mugs and orders. Or maybe they know everybody’s preference already. They carefully concot the correct mix of tea bags, spoonfulls of coffee and sugar, and dashes of milk before returning the right mug to the right colleague.

I am not natively fluent in the language of tea, so this is a slightly unnatural activity for me. To tell the truth, I don’t fully understand how could be so much to it — but I definitely don’t want to get it wrong!

The Ritual of Tea

We gather for tea in break rooms, enjoying a few minutes of socialising to clear our heads and reground ourselves as humans, not cogs in the machine.

In this time and space away from our desks and our usual way of working, we find creativity, collaboration and innovation.

At the end of the day, making somebody a cup of tea is not just about a drink; it’s about supporting each other and developping the relationship. In the UK, wellbeing often starts with a cup of tea. Even if the mug is untouched until it gets too cold and unpleasant to drink, it had value! The offer of care and support was there. The moment shared with eachother. The opportunity to be human together, not just colleagues. We need more of that.

All this chat about tea has made me thirsty! I’m going to go brew a cuppa.

How do you take your tea? Answer in the comments below.

Ways of Working

“Ways of Working” is a multi-part series of quick tips to personalize your workplace culture and make it work for you and your colleagues.

If you want help understanding and communicating your own Ways of Working, or if you want to run a Ways of Working workshop with your team, send me a message! Let’s talk.

#Tea #WorkplaceWellbeing #CompanyCulture

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