End of the office tea round to see decline in water cooler conversations?

Decline of office tea round to see less water cooler chats?

March 24, 2014

Water cooler conversations – otherwise known as having a quick chat with colleagues during the working day – are a bona fida part of the internal comms mix.

Understanding the topics of conversation among employees during work hours is crucial for any IC professional looking to ensure their comms hits the right mark with impact and reach.

But one of the main hot spots for these discussions – the good old fashioned British tea round – appears to be under threat.

Latest research reveals that 2.5 million workers claim they are now too busy to stick the kettle on and make a round for their colleagues, preferring to make their own brew and crack on with their work.

The survey, commissioned by the older people’s charity Royal Voluntary Service, saw 1,200 UK employees polled with more than a third now shunning the traditional tea round.

Interestingly, 40 per cent of those opted to quit the tea round because the boss never made their share of cuppas *looks round guiltily*.

Chief executive David McCullough said: “We know first-hand how important a cup of tea and a little bit of shared time can be to a person’s life, whether that’s a happy workplace or cheering up on older person who might not have seen anyone else all week.”

The charity is urging companies to help save the tea round as part of its annual Great Brew Break fundraiser from April 28 to May 4.

Of course, water cooler conversations don’t purely revolve around communal tea rounds. They come in all shapes and sizes – cigarette breaks and lunches, for example.

However, the feedback suggests the ever-increasing pressures in today’s working life means opportunities for these invaluable work-related discussions to take place are becoming less frequent.

Actress Felicity Kendal, an ambassador for the charity, which was formerly known as the WRVS, said: “Time out for a cup of tea and quick chat is hugely important, especially in today’s ‘head down’ fast-paced culture.

“It might be the time someone opens up about something that’s been bothering them or maybe you’ll get to hear about that great job that’s coming up.

“We all need to take a break to keep our minds focused and it’s so important that we maintain a connection with our colleagues.”