Putting the tea in teamwork 

May 20, 2022 by No Comments | Category Our work

In the last year, tea (yes, tea!) has helped to initiate over 170 conversations between over 240 Scottish Government employees about public engagement and participation.

How it works

We promote our “networking cuppa chats” to colleagues across Scottish Government and its agencies via our staff intranet and our staff network which is hosted on a platform called Yammer. 

Colleagues are then paired randomly each month and invited to arrange a 30 minute meeting with their partner to talk about participation and engagement.

Colleagues talk about all sorts of things, from their past experiences of engaging the public in policy development to a challenge they are facing in their current work. 

Where the idea came from

“Networking cuppa chats” also known as “randomised coffee trials” amongst other names is the simple idea of connecting pairs of people in an organisation at random. It’s a great way to encourage new ideas and collaborations whilst improving organisational culture.

As far as we know the idea came from Nesta and has been adopted by a huge range of organisations in different guises ever since. 

Members feedback

We recently asked members of the community to share some feedback.

“These have been fantastic in getting to know new colleagues with an interest in public participation and engagement!” – Verena, Communications, Engagement and Events Manager

“I have learned a lot about other people’s roles and where they work, as well as non-work aspects of colleagues’ lives. I have made connections and learned new information that I have used in my work and in my personal life. It is nice to sometimes take time out of reading or writing documents to enjoy a half an hour chat with a colleague that you don’t know, yet.” – Deirdre, Policy Manager

“Having the Cuppa Chats has been so refreshing! Not only has it been great to have a human connection during these ‘working from home’ months but it also makes me appreciate just how diverse each person’s role is within Scottish Government. There are times when 30 minutes is enough and other times the conversation could continue well beyond the allocated time. Such a great way to find out more about what the Scottish Government does and how our roles all interconnect at some level.” – Angela, Client Advisor

“It’s really nice to meet people across the organisation and share different ideas and experiences. I’ve learnt a lot just by speaking to people that I usually wouldn’t have interacted with and who have different perspectives and experiences to me.” – Kerrie, Mainstreaming and Strategy Engagement Manager

“Cuppa chats are a great way to connect with, or even reconnect with, colleagues from across different parts of the organisation that perhaps don’t engage or have natural portfolio links. That said, it’s amazing the synergies, commonalities, and improvements that can come out of a simple cuppa chat that both aids my activity and nurtures long term relationships with diverse colleagues.” – Mark, Head of Programme Management

“Having joined Scottish Government during the last year, I’ve not had the opportunity to meet colleagues out with my team as much as I would have liked. Cuppa chats has been a fantastic way to make up those missed connections and discover the wide range of work going on in the organisation. I almost always find that there is a lot to talk about with colleagues and loads of areas of crossover for our work. It’s a brilliant way to cut across silos and make connections between projects.” – Ellie, Senior Digital Engagement Manager

We plan to continue our series of networking cuppa chats and look forward to making more connections.


Our “networking cuppa chats” are part of a programme of activity taking place as part of the Scottish Government’s Public Engagement and Participation Staff Network which was initially established in early 2020 to support the roll-out of the Participation Framework within Scottish Government. The network was intended to be made up of representatives from each directorate of Scottish Government, each acting as a contact point for their area to access training and guidance on how to use the framework.

However, following some introductory conversations with members, it was clear that what they’d value most from the network was the opportunity to share learning and best practice in a supportive environment with colleagues doing similar work in different areas and making useful connections between pieces of work.

In the spirit of good participation, we adjusted our plans in response to this feedback! 

On 15 October 2021, International Day of Democracy, we (The Digital Engagement Team and Open Government Team) relaunched Scottish Government’s Public Engagement and Participation Staff Network. Since then we’ve welcomed  over 200 new members from across the Scottish Government and its agencies.

We want to hear from you…

How do you encourage networking, collaboration, idea sharing and improved culture within your organisation, profession or sector?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Leave a comment

By submitting a comment, you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy policy to see how the Scottish Government handles your information.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *