Author Topic: S/O - Skipping morning teas  (Read 2765 times)

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Iris

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S/O - Skipping morning teas
« on: February 22, 2014, 09:44:56 PM »
jpcher's thread on eating at work made me think of my own situation and I thought I'd ask for people's perspective.

Once a week my boss buys morning tea for the staff. I think it's supposed to be a chance for all the staff to get together and 'bond' but it's not a compulsory meeting. We are however, strongly encouraged to attend. I don't attend for several reasons, but the one I wanted to discuss here is simply that it doesn't fit in with my eating routine. The only things on offer are sweet cakes and tea/coffee and I don't eat any of those, plus I typically eat my most substantial work-day meal in the first break, when this meeting is. (There's more to it than that but to keep it brief I'll just say please trust me that I can't eat cake just for one day).

I'm curious to hear what people think of this - is it rude for the boss to provide such a limited menu? Am I rude to not attend? Would it be rude to take my own food and eat it in front of everyone else? If someone asks me is it weird to use diet concerns as a reason not to attend?

Also I'd love to hear if anyone has had a similar situation at work.
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PastryGoddess

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2014, 10:01:11 PM »
I think it would be smart for you to attend depending on how high up the management chain you are and only if a majority of the staff on your employment level attend.  For example if you are a manager and all of the other managers attend, you should try to go. 

I don't think it's rude to take your own food.  It's not about the food, it's more about the socialization than anything else.

Hmmmmm

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2014, 10:01:43 PM »
I think it would be fine to take your own food and eat then since that is the time you normally eat.

In our office, it's pretty normal to see someone bring in food they normally eat. One guy is n a very strict all organic diet. The catering company that we use normally does not offer a menu selection that meets his needs. And if pizza or sandwhiches or ordered in, they wouldn't meet his restrictions so he brings his own lunch to lunch meetings. In other meetings, tea, water and coffee are the standard drinks offered. One of my employees always shows up with a diet coke because that is his caffeine of choice for the mornings.


Lynn2000

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2014, 10:14:43 PM »
It sounds like from a professional point of view, it would be wise for you to attend. However, I wouldn't think it's compulsory to actually eat anything. You could toy with a fork and a cup of hot water if you felt awkward with empty hands.

Bringing your own food... Really depends on the situation. I assume you haven't seen anyone else do it. If it's a big gathering and you could unobtrusively eat your food and kind of make it look like you were eating what was provided, it would probably be okay. If it's a small gathering and you would be eating something very fragrant or attention-getting somehow, that could be awkward. I think you would have to be prepared to apologetically blame health concerns or something, like you were on a specific diet for medical reasons. It would take some delicacy because I think you don't want to imply that the provided food is bad--"it's not the food, it's me." If the morning tea is a casual, come-and-go gathering, would it be possible to eat first and arrive late, or to leave early and eat then?

I don't think it's exactly rude for Boss to provide a limited menu, especially as it sounds like this is supposed to be a perk. Though, if it's a weekly thing, more people than just you would probably appreciate a little more variety in the offerings--same amount spent each week, but maybe bagels or fruit/veggies every once in a while instead of sweets. I'm not sure how one would go about suggesting that, though--I think it would also take some delicacy.
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blarg314

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2014, 10:51:35 PM »

I don't think it's rude for the boss to provide a limited selection of food. Tea, coffee and starchy sweets have been the standard at pretty much any work related tea-time/coffee-time/meeting food that I've experienced in multiple jobs on two different continents. From a boss perspective, if I'm providing free food for an employee coffee time, and people start complaining because they don't like doughnuts and coffee - they want fresh fruit and sparkling water, and can you move it to 3pm, because that's when they're hungry - I wouldn't be amused.

That said, professionally I think it's a good idea to go, because the food is is the incentive not the point of these gatherings. The point is to have the employees get together and bond, the food makes it a more enjoyable event for most people, and boosts participation.   You don't have to eat or drink, just show up and chat for a bit. You say that you don't like eating at that time of day anyways, so it's not like you're going hungry. If you don't want to stand out - have water or juice in your mug. I doubt anyone will notice or care.

Tea Drinker

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2014, 12:46:01 AM »

I don't think it's rude for the boss to provide a limited selection of food. Tea, coffee and starchy sweets have been the standard at pretty much any work related tea-time/coffee-time/meeting food that I've experienced in multiple jobs on two different continents. From a boss perspective, if I'm providing free food for an employee coffee time, and people start complaining because they don't like doughnuts and coffee - they want fresh fruit and sparkling water, and can you move it to 3pm, because that's when they're hungry - I wouldn't be amused.

That said, professionally I think it's a good idea to go, because the food is is the incentive not the point of these gatherings. The point is to have the employees get together and bond, the food makes it a more enjoyable event for most people, and boosts participation.   You don't have to eat or drink, just show up and chat for a bit. You say that you don't like eating at that time of day anyways, so it's not like you're going hungry. If you don't want to stand out - have water or juice in your mug. I doubt anyone will notice or care.

Actually, what Iris said is that she eats a more substantial meal during the break time when this tea is held, so "just don't eat" isn't an option.

In Iris's shoes I might ask the boss, given that I had medical reasons to need to eat something more substantial at about that time of day, whether it would be okay for me to eat that meal right after the break, while doing my usual work. But that of course depends on the kind of work being done--it wouldn't work with a job making or answering phone calls, or any sort of lab.

I don't think it's rude for the boss to serve just cake, nor would it be to serve just bagels and butter. But if he's going to supply that limited a menu, and strongly encourage people to attend as a social thing, it's reasonable to go to him with something like "I want to go to the weekly morning teas, but I have to eat a more substantial meal in the morning, and I normally use that morning break to eat it. Would it be okay for me to eat my sandwich right before or after the tea break, at my desk?" And maybe suggest shortening your lunch break slightly, or staying a few minutes longer at the end of the day, if it's not feasible to work while eating.
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cicero

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2014, 03:09:20 AM »
I would go to the meeting, and bring a bottle of water or whatever beverage you *do* drink, and probably *something* to eat (maybe not an entire meal, but maybe a small portion, something portable). I don't think it's rude. the focus of the meeting isn't the food, it's not a once in while/annual/monthly get together, but a weekly tradition.

(personally, *I* would mention to the boss/office manager that perhaps with so many people watching their health these days, maybe we could offer other/additional options like herbal tea, water, fruit, etc. You would be surprised how many people are willing to ditch the donuts and pastries for fruit

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Psychopoesie

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2014, 06:53:49 AM »
What Cicero said.

Agree that the current focus on better health is a good angle. I noticed when I was working that there'd been a real shift over the years to providing healthier options at work functions or training courses. So there would still be muffins or cake but also a fruit platter or veggies with dip, some little salad sandwiches, stuff like that.

I also wonder if it may not be the boss who's choosing or organising the food. It that's the case, a quiet word with the organiser might help.

If I was the boss and was treating the team to food out of my own pocket (not sure if that's the case) I might be a bit miffed if someone didn't like what was on offer.

bopper

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2014, 04:49:19 PM »
Canyou drink tea or coffee??  If not, just bring some water in your own mug and chat for a bit.

Margo

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2014, 04:56:43 PM »
I don't think it is rude of Boss not to offer a wider selection, although I do like the suggestion to ask him/her about offering other options such  fruit or muesli as well.

Would it be possible to ask if you can take 10 minutes before or after the meeting to eat what you need to, or to ask if it's OK for you to bring something more substantial with you.

From a career point of view I think attending at least some of the time would probably be a good idea, if you could.

katycoo

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2014, 05:58:12 PM »
I can' speak for your office, but in mine, I would feel comfortable taking my own food.  After all, its not a statement that the provided food isn't good enough but rather you own food suits you better anyway (having your main meal at that time).  After all, expecting them to provide you with lunch at morning tea time simply becuase its your preference is overkill.

If anyone asked I would feel comfortable saying "I can't eat cake and I like to eat my lunch now anyway so it works out well".

Do you think this would be awkward for you?
« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 05:55:57 PM by katycoo »

purple

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2014, 09:04:33 PM »
I would just go along for the first half and have a drink of water or something, making sure that boss and a few others saw me there.
Then I'd leave quietly and go eat before going back to work.

FWIW, I often find myself in similar situations because I do not eat like other people eat  :).

White Lotus

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2014, 01:46:41 PM »
Bring your own.  Like many long-time vegetarians, I often (less frequently necessary now) bring my own.  Nobody cares.  All you need to say is "special diet" and shrug, then apply bean dip.  I like the idea of talking to Boss and asking her/his advice, and maybe making some suggestions about options.

blarg314

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2014, 07:35:19 PM »

I do think that asking the boss for more options, particularly options like muesli and fruit which would involve more work and more money, isn't a good idea unless the OP is asked, or is on the committee that is deciding these matters.  Complaining that free, optional perks aren't good enough for you and you want something better usually doesn't go over well.


DavidH

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Re: S/O - Skipping morning teas
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2014, 08:28:15 PM »
Is it rude for the boss to provide such a limited menu? No, since it is a perk, it is not rude to provide a limited menu, particularly since it is a common menu for a morning coffee break. 

Am I rude to not attend? It depends on the dynamics of the office, but in general it would be better to at least show up briefly.

Would it be rude to take my own food and eat it in front of everyone else? Unlikely, but it is best to bring something that fits the dynamic, so if everyone is walking around, then bring something than can be eaten standing.

If someone asks me is it weird to use diet concerns as a reason not to attend?  Kind of, since you could bring any beverage in a cup, or a teabag of your choice and eating the cake isn't required to attend.  I'd think it odd that you couldn't either split the time between the meeting and your meal or have a snack and move your meal later for that one day.