Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Office Politics and Tea

I'm typing this as I sit here desperate for a cup of tea. Something hot, wet, delicious and ever-so-slightly stimulating while I tap away at my keyboard and click my mouse. There's a kettle just through that door over there. Mugs too. I've even brought my own tea bags in.

So why can't I just go and make one?

Well, it turns out this is the sort of office where anyone going into the kitchen to make a cuppa also goes round all of their colleagues' desks offering to make them one too. It presumably began when there was just a small team of developers huddled in a poky office above a bar but the obligation has lasted through the growth and expansion of the company - now there are more than thirty desks on this floor alone.

The thing is, in theory the system should be a good one. You would need to make only every twentieth cup of tea, with the intermittent nineteen being brought to your desk free of any personal effort. Sounds great, right?

No. It's not what I want. No-one makes a cup of tea the way that you make your own. You know exactly how long to keep the tea bag in the water, how much milk and sugar to add and the correct order to do it all in. You know whether you have to wait for the kettle to fully boil and whether to pour it immediately afterwards (that's a 'yes' to both in case you don't).

And the most vital reason why I don't want a cup of tea brought to my desk is this: we spend upwards of eight hours a day staring at computer screens. We already know that doing so is bad for our long-term vision but more recent studies have also shown that it can confuse your brain too by affecting production of natural chemicals like melatonin and seratonin. It just not good for you! So I don't just want to drink tea, I want to step away from my laptop, walk into a different room and stand there for at least ten minutes while I make it. I'd stand up, stretch my legs, stare at a dark wall and breathe.

So I opt out of the system. Every time someone offers me a drink, I politely decline.

But I still can't boil that kettle over there without eyes boring into the back of my head, eyes of the desk-constrained awaiting their turn for a free tea. Because I can't tell them I'm 'opting out', can I? It would be selfish, anti-social, billigerant...

It looks like I'll have to wait until I get home.


  1. Take a flask tomorrow and you can have one when you want.

  2. What you need is a USB kettle :)