The joy of tea - Productivity improvements through tea

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This entry was written more than 2 years ago and the information may be out of date

In our continuing effort to make our workplace better we've invested in a tea urn! A big step that must make us a big player surely? It's had some lovely benefits however that have increase our happiness and output. Here's how and why.

Tea makes everything better

In our office you would think that we are powered by tea. For our North American readers by tea we mean “breakfast tea” which oddly we drink all day and not just at breakfast. I often present at conferences with a cup of tea in my hand such is the comforting effect tea has on my nerves.

We’ve upscaled our tea facilities of late and gone the whole hog and bought a tea urn (technically it's a hot water urn). This is something I put off for ages as I worried we would all drink ourselves into a tea coma but so far we’ve held that off.

In fact it's had some unexpected and pleasing unintended consequences which as ever I can use to show you the joy of experimenting with these things and how important we think it is to invest in good kit to keep everyone in the office happy. A happy team is a happy team, they are normally more productive too but happiness is what counts first. Happiness means our clients problems get solved better and faster.

Tea on demand, the results

Less time is spent making tea

Well this is obvious right? We have hot water on demand so of course it's quicker as you don’t need to wait for the kettle to boil. Well, yes, but in getting the urn we also removed the need for the “tea round”, this is the polite ritual of making everyone else a brew at the same time you fancy one yourself. With 5 in the office this would need a full kettle and a good memory for who likes what. Once we removed that pressure that “it’s your turn to make the brews” everyone could drink at their own pace and not at the pace of the fastest tea drinker in the group. Crazy but it works.

The outcome of this was less time making brews means more time working or talking or chilling out all of which are good things. Every now and then someone will make a round for old times sake and to keep up the team connection (even though we are all in the same room it's nice to be made a brew once in a while).

Less tea is being drunk

Drinking individually rather than following the tea herd means you have a brew when you want and not when you feel obliged to. Don’t get us wrong, no one is forced to drink tea but if someone offered one you nearly always said yes because...well, it's a mug of tea...how could you not?

Now you can drink when you want to which thankfully is less than we used to. I’ve halved my tea drinking intake as a result, sadly the same can't be said for the biscuit intake which remains at "quite high".

Less tea means less pee

Sorry to get crude for a minute but by drinking less we pee less. It's simple science that one. But it has some knock on effects too. Less time in the bathroom is an obvious one which means more time at work but also it means less interruptions from the need to pee so when working on a tricky problem we don’t have to bail half way to answer mother natures call. Our concentration is up as a result as is our productivity! This was not expected either as David Cameron (thats the current British Prime Mister btw) apparently does the exact opposite.

Bits we miss

The tea round was quite a nice little time to do something different, something that was not the problem at hand and give yourself a little break. I quite like doing a mindless task that you could sort of do in your sleep, it leads to higher thinking or just some space to chill out.

Asking who wants what and delivering the brew to everyones desk meant you had the chance to see what others were working on and spark off some ideas/thoughts. I miss that very British way of engaging. But we’ve got around that a little by just working on chatting more something some will say I've never had a problem with :)

How to do it

We bought a urn that will auto shut off if it gets near empty ( less than 1 litre). The minimum mark on it is actually the 3 litre mark so there is a nice safety margin and whoever sees the urn on minimum has to fill it up. We bought a 7 day timer for it so it's off at the weekend and only on in office hours to save electric and of course some kittens somewhere no doubt.

I’m pondering insulating it to save some more energy and help my inner green climate conscious self sleep at night, however keeping 8 litres of water warm takes a lot less power that heating it up in the first place (or repeatedly as we would via a kettle) so I'm told but I need to confirm.

Conclusion

If you run a company of 4+ people then simply buy an urn. If you don’t already provide free tea and coffee for your staff do so you tight fisted so and so. It will make your staff happy and happy staff stay with you, work with you, work better as a result but more importantly they are happy. We spend more hours awake at work than we do at home, so let them make tea!

Hi, I'm James

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