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Is the workplace cuppa going the way of the bowler hat?

As British as cricket and fish'n'chips, the cup of tea is an institution in the office as it is at home, giving workers a boost and a break. Yet reports of its demise regularly crop up in the media. Have they been greatly exaggerated?

While the consumption of black tea has been slowly declining, the UK is still one of the biggest per capita consumers of tea in the world; and new tea shops are spearheading a revival of tea's coolness in the face of high street dominance from coffee shops. In the office, a nice refreshing cuppa is still enjoyed four times a day by the average UK office worker.

So on the face of it, it doesn't look as though tea is going the way of the bowler hat.

What has changed, however, is tea's place as a means to down tools for a few minutes and socialise with colleagues - or as expression of camaraderie with individuals pitching in to brew a round for the team.

'Presenteaism'

A survey from Tetley has found that half of respondents are 'too busy' to stop for a cup and one in five take fewer tea breaks than five years ago.

Last year, a report estimated 2.5 million workers no longer had time to put the kettle on for their colleagues.

A third of workers said that they preferred to make a cuppa for themselves alone. Some deliberately wait until others have made their own before offering, or wait until there's no one around, or make horrible tea and coffee so they are not asked again.

Loyalty, fidelity, cup of tea

Yet, many workers said they greatly benefited from having a proper break and getting together with colleagues - not only to improve concentration, but to give a lift to team spirit.

Getting the tea round, therefore, could be a small action that can serve multiple beneficial purposes. It could even help create a healthier workplace culture, in which taking an occasional break is not seen as a sign of weakness.

A manager bringing in a tray of steaming mugs could make a particularly good impression. Some 40 per cent of workers surveyed said their boss never made them a brew.

It might also encourage communication and exchange of ideas, while raising leadership visibility too.

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