Dear Lifehacker, I work in a small team (five of us) and all of us have a fairly high caffeine addiction which, coupled with our office being within 100 metres of about give good coffee joints, leads us to buying coffee fairly regularly. We rotate the buying and the place we go to depending on who is going. I just wondered if you could recommend a good way to balance out who pays, who is ahead, and who is behind.
Rarely do we buy a whole round of five drinks. There's little stress about it, most people seem to pull their weight, but equally some people drink more coffee than others, so just putting money into a pot wouldn't work, and the only spreadsheet solution I can think of is to keep track of how many each person has bought for each other person — which is massively complicated. Any ideas for how to organise fairness with the office coffee run? Cheers, Blue
As ever, I'm trusting that Lifehacker readers will be able to bring their collective wisdom to bear on this issue, but I'll offer a couple of thoughts first. The simplest solution to the problem would be to just drop the current arrangement that whoever goes out for coffee pays for the whole round. If someone wants a coffee, they cough up the cash when they place their order.
Of course, the downside of that approach is that people often don't have the right amount of change on hand. One possible solution there is to pick up a bunch of $2 coins from a bank via office petty cash and have those available for people who hit the office with nothing smaller than a $20 note.
Another way of simplifying the process would be to stop rotating the coffee love, pick one place you all like and use that consistently. If they're regularly getting your business, they might well be amenable to running separate tabs for each person, which get paid off whenever that individual drops in to do the ordering.
What other solutions have Lifehacker readers used to stop the coffee run becoming a source of office fiscal friction? Tell us in the comments.
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