Some of you may not even know this week exists, but it’s Afternoon Tea Week from 13-19 August 2018. It’s all about celebrating this tradition and recognising quirky, quaint and unique venues around the UK to “take tea”. Tea drinking dates back to China, (c. 3rd Century BC) but afternoon tea was supposedly started by the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza, King Charles II’s wife in the 1660s. It was the popularised in the 1880s by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. What is the significance of this mini-history lessonand how does afternoon tea relate to wellbeing and a positive workplace?
It is all about recognition and valuing a team with a treat and providing time out and space to breathe. While I am not a fan of enforced fun like going to Go Ape for a work bonding session, I do believe in treating your staff and letting them know you appreciate them. In Mike Jenning’s book Valuable he provides examples of how to build trust, openness and honesty to create wellbeing in business. The focus is around human interaction and positive relationships over profit. A philosophy I agree very much with. From my perspective I have found retreating from the everyday workspace to somewhere just a little bit magical results in increased motivation. Whether it’s for an annual development review, a team away day or a one-to-one it can really make an impact and a difference on an individual and team level.
Here are my top places to have afternoon tea for various workplace scenarios.
- For the team away day- The Ampersand, South Kensington, London
One my favourite places that I frequented often with the team. The Ampersand have a relaxed yet luxurious approach to afternoon tea. Rooms for team away days can be hired followed by afternoon tea in the drawing room on velvet chairs. Often themed for the season too, the likelihood is your team will leave with a big smile on their face.
2. For the 1-2-1– Museum Cafes Nationwide
There may be those 1-2-1s where you want to say thank you, discuss a project or you just need a break to breathe. I find your local museum will be a great place to do just that. Not only are you supporting them, but they also tend to have delicious teas, coffees, scones and cakes. My top recommendations are The V&A for the stunning tiles and ceilings, the simplicity of the Basement Cafe of the National Portrait Gallery or locally sourced produce at The Manchester Art Gallery Cafe.
3. For the annual development review (ADR) – Fait Maison London and local family run cafes
I remember once delivering appraisal training some years ago at a stuffy institution and was met with horror when I suggested that as a manager you could have an ADR at a coffee shop. Much panic ensued and the co-facilitator started talking about confidentiality. Whilst of course confidentiality is paramount, I do think that fresh and innovative ideas can be found away from the office environment. Yes, check with your team member too and see what they prefer you can usually book a quiet space if required. It’s not rocket science is it?! This is where family run cafes come into their own create what you need to be productive. One of my all time top 10 is the Skylark Bakery in the Midlands.
4. To say thank you – Harvey Nichols (UK wide)
If members of staff have gone above and beyond I feel it’s crucial to say thank you. I recall at my first role at Leeds University Union being taken to Harvey Nichols in Leeds by the Welfare Team. It is something that has stayed with me, enabling me to understand the value of taking time out. It is also about making the team feel recognised.
5. For the leaving do- Afternoon Tea Catering (high street or bespoke outlets nationwide)
If you don’t want to leave the office before you have to, then you can get Afternoon Tea delivered to your office door. Informal, fun and adaptable, I have had afternoon teas to say goodbye. Why not leave on a sugar high? It also provides an opportunity for people who may not be able to stay past core working hours to stop by and have a chat. They can also be catered for all dietary requirements easily.