Why Your Colleague Dodges Their Tea Round And How To Stop Them

Maintaining harmony in the workplace is vital, but not necessarily easy. This is not surprising really, when you consider that everyone is there out of necessity more than anything - for 40+ hours a week.

What's more, work is often made up of an unnatural mish-mash of characters, who would never ordinarily choose to spend time with each other.

But there is one thing almost all of us have in common, and that is the need for regular teas and coffees. Which brings us to the office brew round.

Done properly, it can bring colleagues together in a spirit of camaraderie. However, it can be a political minefield, fraught with pitfalls and minor character assassinations.

Of course, there's the question of how best to handle the shit brewer, who without fail returns a mug full of puddle every round; do you button up and drink it down, always say you don't fancy one when it's their turn, or just look them right in the eye and tell them that what they serve up looks and tastes like a mug full of old man's foot spa liquid?

Then there's the weirdo who pretends they don't like tea or coffee and doesn't get involved at all, but secretly just doesn't rate the hygiene of their colleagues.

However, the undisputed scourge of every office is the round dodger. That prick who guzzles the stuff down all day but never steps up to the kettle.

These pricks come in different guises. There are those who only offer off-peak brews, when there's very few colleagues around. Those who offer but never deliver, essentially conducting a 'who wants a tea?' survey more than anything. Then there's the downright ballsy, who don't even pretend to have an interest in doing their bit.

So what motivates these psychopaths?

Well according to Dr Daniel Campbell-Meiklejohn, Senior Lecturer at the University of Sussex's school of psychology, there are several reasons.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Speaking to LADbible, he said: "It could be one of a few things. From a social psychology perspective, there may be inbuilt hierarchies in your office politics. A person who may be senior or consider themselves to be senior may feel they don't need to do it.

"Stereotypes and gender biases can raise their ugly heads as well. Gender pay inequality is still a massive problem, and if we're willing to pay men £20,000 more a year to do the same job, then why would that not translate to people doing unequal amounts of chores around the office? Of course, that still exists."

But what if the brew avoider in your office is neither senior nor sexist? Well, this means you've probably got yourself a 'free-rider', according to Dr Campbell-Meiklejohn.

He said: "If we assume everyone is equal in the office and there isn't a hierarchy, then it's basically coming down to a 'free-rider problem'.

"A free-rider problem might be known as 'the tragedy of the commons'. These are situations where there's a public good that needs enough people to contribute to it for everybody to get a benefit.

"Tea rounds are a good example of that. It only really takes one or two really keen people to make the thing work, but a lot of people can benefit. The free-rider is the person who doesn't do it, they basically just let everyone else pick up the tab.

"Eventually though people start building up resentment and saying 'if they're not gonna do it then I'm not gonna do it', which means nobody gets tea."

Of course, a caffeine-deprived workplace is not a place you want to be. So how best to handle these free-riding pricks? Well Dr Campbell-Meiklejohn said it may be in the interest of the 'public good' to be brutal and cut them out of the round.

He said: "The way to get around that is to put people in a situation where their reputation matters, because then they start contributing to these public goods a lot more.

"I'm reminded of Michelle Obama's speech, when she said 'if they go low you go high'. So you do have the opportunity to take the high road.

"But in one sense, if you keep doing it you could argue you might be encouraging their behaviour and reinforcing it. If you do cut them out, then they'll realise their indiscretion has been noted, and their reputation has been tarnished - and they're not getting tea.

"If you're doing it for the survival of the tea round then it's no longer vindictive. It's about maintaining the public good."

There you have it then. If you've got a round dodger, let them know about it - doctor's orders. Indeed, the doc also advised telling the shit-brewer that their tea tastes like piss, provided they don't pride themselves on their brew-making ability (which would be pretty tragic).

He said: "I understand tea is very serious, but I don't think people should take it personally if you tell them they made it too strong or too weak. I would think as long as they don't have a strong identity with their tea making, just give them some pointers."

But despite all the politics and complications that come with the office brew round, Dr Campbell-Meiklejohn argued it could boost job satisfaction for everyone if done fairly.

He said: "Everybody working independently is no fun. It's also a good idea to have a break as you're working, it gives you a chance to re-calibrate. And yeah, caffeine does have an effect, it can make people more productive.

"It's a nice thing to do, and if somebody does a nice thing for you, you're more likely to do a nice thing for them. The side effect of that is that people feel much better about their workplace."

So round dodgers - fill up that kettle, take some orders, think of the public good and the inherently social nature of human beings. And stop being such a prick.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Jake Massey

Jake Massey is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from Newcastle University before going to live in Australia and New Zealand for a few years, where he wrote a travel blog. He has previously written for the Eastern Daily Press, Giggle Beats, CALM and Front Magazine. Jake enjoys playing football, listening to music and writing about himself in the third person.

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