Have you ever lost some cutlery at work? You’ve possibly got some sort of communal kitchen area with a sink, a boiler and somewhere to make a cup of tea but your company won’t provide you with any teaspoons. You bring your own in and before you know it some bugger has filched it.
Well, you’ll be pleased to see that someone has actually done some research into this mysterious activity. Have a read of this study, catchily called “The case of the disappearing teaspoons: longitudinal cohort study of the displacement of teaspoons in an Australian research institute“.
Objectives To determine the overall rate of loss of workplace teaspoons and whether attrition and displacement are correlated with the relative value of the teaspoons or type of tearoom.
This is essential stuff and important for workplace harmony. So, where do they all go? Well, without reading the whole thing I’m not really sure that they know. They’ve worked out some interesting facts about the whole situation though:
Results 56 (80%) of the 70 teaspoons disappeared during the study. The half life of the teaspoons was 81 days. The half life of teaspoons in communal tearooms (42 days) was significantly shorter than for those in rooms associated with particular research groups (77 days). The rate of loss was not influenced by the teaspoons’ value. The incidence of teaspoon loss over the period of observation was 360.62 per 100 teaspoon years. At this rate, an estimated 250 teaspoons would need to be purchased annually to maintain a practical institute-wide population of 70 teaspoons.
Conclusions The loss of workplace teaspoons was rapid, showing that their availability, and hence office culture in general, is constantly threatened.
They’ve even linked in some similar cutlery-related articles for further reading, including a French letter (fnarr!) that suggests that this whole disappearing teaspoon thing might be a worldwide phenomenon plus another letter confirming that teabags and forks are “confounding factors”.
I think that more research should be done in this important field of science. Clearly there’s a problem that the government isn’t addressing.