Tea break becomes e-break

Tea breaks are a tradition that has been with us here in Pakistan since the earliest days of the British Raj more than 200 years ago. Initially when laborers commenced their long day at sunrise, employers allowed a break in the morning when simple snacks and strong, milky sweet tea were served. Some generous employers even repeated the break in the afternoon as well.

These habits soon became a good reason for social gatherings and started a trend that is still very much a part of British life, and indeed Pakistani life, as my hotel here in Karachi practically shuts down twice a day from 10:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., and from 4 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. During these times my workers head to the cafeteria, and the management team heads to the coffee shop for their morning and afternoon caffeine booster shots. 

I have frequently watched them all enjoy these short breaks that seem to visibly refresh their bodies, and as a result boost their performances — due mostly to the extra sugar and milk mixed with the strong tea — and often wondered how we could all make even better use of that precious tea time without impinging upon the obvious benefits that such short breaks produce in terms of brief periods of rest, relaxation, refreshment and, most important, the excellent bonding opportunities that foster a strong sense of camaraderie.

It was also during this time that I began contributing my own articles to several hospitality websites, all of which after being published would be forwarded on to my various department heads in the hope they would also subscribe to those same sites, or simply read and share the articles with their own teams.

This effort on my part eventually became rather laborious and time-consuming. So I thought, instead of sending out different articles to different department heads, why not present all the articles to the entire team at one time?

I decided to rearrange my own daily meeting schedule so I could join my management team each morning at 10:30 in one section of our coffee shop, where we would review on a large screen several articles of interest from the previous day.

Since the program started, we have managed to cover at least five articles each day, or 30 each week, and an absolute minimum of 100 articles a month, the result of which has seen a paradigm shift in our heads of departments’ thirst for knowledge and learning, a thirst and a passion which they are now sharing with their own teams during the junior staff e-breaks held later in the day.

(There are of course many occasions when the breaks are canceled due to business demands, but if that happens we simply store all the learning and development articles in a folder and present them the next Saturday morning at a TADS — Training and Development Saturday— session, as we all work six days a week here, but more about TADS in a future post.)

I must admit that this is time-consuming for me, but on the other hand, I must also admit that it is the part of the day I now most enjoy, along with my cup of steaming hot milky sweet tea. So give it a try, and brew up some strong results for your team.