By Daniel Hunter

Gossip and the occasional treat are the most commonly shared items across British workplaces, but more personal items such as coffee mugs are off limits, according to a new survey of the nation’s sharing habits at work.

And while the end of year festive season is traditionally seen as a time for goodwill, many British workers say it has no effect on their willingness to share.

The survey was conducted by YouGov on behalf of Vodafone to support Vodafone Data Sharer, which enables businesses to save money by sharing their mobile internet allowance across employees and devices. Over 1,000 workers were questioned in the survey and almost half (46%) said the things they most share with colleagues was treats such as sweets.

Gossip is a close second with 45% saying they like to engage in a quick chat. Workers in Scotland and the East of England are the top gossipers with 61% and 52% of workers surveyed, respectively, saying they like to share a good gossip.

Food is the most contentious item, with 31% saying their lunch would be one of the top three things they would least like to share, closely followed by an equal aversion to sharing a favourite coffee mug (30%). People in Scotland (41%) said they have the biggest gripe when it comes to other people borrowing their mug.

Christmas is traditionally seen as a time for sharing, but across Britain’s workplace the Christmas spirit has yet to take hold, according to the survey. Of the 1,153 workers polled, 75% said they wouldn’t be more likely to share just because it was Christmas. Workers in London, perhaps surprisingly, were most likely to share more things over the festive period (23%), compared with any other region. In Scotland, for example, 82% of workers said Christmas did not make them more likely to do it.

Chocolates (62%) were the most likely item distributed by those workers who would be more likely to share things over Christmas, followed by mince pies on 39%. Less than one-fifth (17%) of Christmas sharers, however, would split a bottle of champagne at their work Christmas party.

Relationship psychologist and self-help author Corinne Sweet, best known for her work on Big Brother comments: “During tough economic times people are a bit more wary about sharing things of monetary value (food, wine), or sharing due to health implications (like mugs, earphones, even kisses), as they need to stay healthy to keep working.

"The economic gloom and doom has dampened our generosity somewhat as a nation. However, increased prudence has also meant we are aware of sharing things which are precious, and stretch resources more thoughtfully today.”

Peter Boucher, Enterprise Marketing Director at Vodafone UK adds: "We know from working with British businesses every day that people are actually becoming increasingly open to sharing in the workplace, demonstrated by their willingness to adopt new working styles, including sharing a desk.

"Using tools like Vodafone Data Sharer, workers can collaborate even more and businesses can make the most of their resources by pooling data allowances amongst employees and devices. But Britain’s workers shouldn’t be worried: introducing more flexible ways of working through tools such as Vodafone Data Sharer shouldn’t mean they have to share personal things like their mug if they don’t want to!”

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