Cracking a joke, making a cuppa and lending a pen are the fastest ways that office workers in the East Midlands can form bonds and become popular with colleagues - but taking credit for someone else’s work, turning up late and not pulling your weight will quickly annoy fellow employees.
This is according to new research into office culture conducted among workers in the region.
In true British fashion, making tea for others builds strong bonds when it comes to making friends at work. In fact, compared to the rest of the UK, more office workers in the East Midlands believe the social interaction involved in making a brew brings them closer to their colleagues (more than 73 per cent). With more than four rounds made per day in the average office in the region, there’s plenty of opportunity to impress.
A study of 2,000 British office workers, conducted by My Nametags (www.mynametags.com), revealed the actions that are most valued by co-workers and guaranteed to boost office popularity.
In the East Midlands, helping relieve a colleague’s workload when they are busy (94 per cent), assisting with a technical issue (93 per cent) and saving a colleague from a challenging customer or client phone call (89 per cent) were all greatly appreciated.
Taking charge of the office tea round also scored highly, with 82 per cent viewing it as a valuable gesture.
The ‘office fixer’ and the ‘mother hen’ figures in the officer were both voted the joint most popular members of the office, while 70 per cent of those surveyed agreed that sharing stationery goes a long way in helping them form bonds.
Social interactions form a key part of our working life, with 40 per cent of those researched admitting that they would prefer office perks, including a happy working environment or never having to interact with annoying colleagues again, over a pay rise.
More than one in 10 people would also opt to never answer the phone again over a wage increase.
Beverley Stone, chartered psychologist, said: “From my perspective, the most significant finding from the research is the large extent that people are motivated by small gestures.
"These are often overlooked by organisations, or even considered not important.
"The environment we work in has a huge impact on our self-image and we need to feel valued and respected in order to thrive.
"Positive interactions with colleagues are so vital, as they reinforce feelings of belonging and being appreciated. Not feeling supported or believing that their colleagues lack integrity can lead talented people to look elsewhere for work, which will have a big impact on a business.
"This is why social rituals, however small, are an important part of UK office culture.”
In terms of the national research, one quarter of people believe that making tea for their boss will even improve their chances of promotion. Men are more likely to buy into this theory, with 29 per cent believing that there is a link between making tea and receiving a promotion, compared to 20 per cent of women.
That said, the office tea round also provides opportunities to commit workplace social faux pas. Half of office workers secretly judge people who don’t offer to make a round of hot drinks, while 17 per cent confessed to avoiding drinking tea or coffee at work because it’s too much hassle.
When it comes to friction among co-workers, colleagues not pulling their weight (56 per cent), taking credit for someone else’s work (45 per cent) and repeatedly coming in late (37 per cent), were voted top. People spending too much time on social media (33 per cent), leaving washing up in the sink (32 per cent) and confrontational colleagues (31 per cent) were also listed as top gripes among British office workers.
Agreeing the thermostat temperature was also cited as an issue among office workers (24 per cent), followed by organising social events such as the Christmas party (10 per cent). Eating smelly food or chewing loudly, stealing stationery and food thieves were also listed as causes of irritation.
Over 35 per cent have had their food stolen in the office, most often from the communal fridge (86 per cent). While one third of people said they use name tags to prevent food theft, some admitted to going to extreme measures to prevent further incidents. This included licking food, putting laxatives in meals to catch the culprit and confronting whoever they believed to be the perpetrator.
Lars B. Andersen, founder and managing director at My Nametags, said: “A huge percentage of the UK population work in an office, so we were interested to explore the sociology behind the behaviour and relationships that are formed in this environment.
"This revealed the extent to which missing food and stationery causes conflict, so it’s unsurprising that many of our customers use name tags to keep their possessions secure while at work.”
It’s not just food that goes missing in the office, over one third of workers have also lost stationery, with the majority (87 per cent) revealing items have been taken from their desk.
A whopping 72 per cent of office workers claimed they would be upset if they lost certain items of office stationery. Most workers (52 per cent) admitted to being irrationally protective over a treasured item which was, for many, their favourite pen (39 per cent).
It perhaps then comes as no surprise that many office workers feel compelled to take action if they have such items taken from their desk. Workers admitted to shouting across the office (19 per cent) or sticking name labels on all their stationery (14 per cent) as a reaction to having prized items stolen.
Some even admitted to hiding or locking away their favourite items, while others said stealing from co-workers was the way they re-gained missing stationery.
Lars B. Andersen said: “In response to the findings, we have launched a new set of smaller name tags that will stick on most office stationery to stop items being taken or going missing. While we can’t help with the tea round, we hope these new labels will reduce one of the major causes of irritation for office workers moving forward.”