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Today up on the EDS blog we have a guest post from Nathan Sharpe!

Will Coffee Boost or Kill Office Productivity?

3 Coffee Productivity Myths Debunked by Science

With coffee’s unwavering popularity, it is no surprise that this beverage has spurred many lovers and haters. One of the most debated topics about coffee is whether it impacts productivity positively or negatively.

Of course, coffee or anything for that matter, affects every individual in a different way so it can be difficult to come up with a single definitive response to this question. However, numerous studies and research have been conducted to give light to this issue.

Here are productivity claims about coffee and coffee breaks debunked by science.

Productivity Myth #1: Coffee breaks distract employees from the work at hand

Every single day, about 95 million cups of coffee are consumed in the UK. Coffee has become the beverage of choice in many homes in the country and is used to power up employees working in different departments and functional areas of business.

In fact,  a 2017 survey has revealed that Britons waste an average of 18 hours a year popping out of the office to get coffee. According to the study, workers go out of the office at least once a week for about 22 minutes to pick up hot, frothy coffee.

Business managers who hear of these statistics will of course be worried about how these breaks are serving as distractions for their employees. But it is important to note that it is not actually the coffee that’s causing this problem. This issue arises from employees having to physically go out of the office building to get a decent cup.

Coffee in itself has been proven to improve alertness levels and enhance performance on a variety of tasks. Additionally, studies have also shown that drinking coffee may improve memory, reaction time and overall cognitive function. These results can actually help employees to focus better on their work, rather than being distracted.

To address the time issue, this can easily be resolved by providing employees with great-tasting coffee right in the office. Free coffee still ranks as one of the top employee perks that contributes to employee happiness. But keep in mind that people in general are becoming more sophisticated coffee drinkers that’s why the  instant variety will probably not be as much appreciated that a freshly brewed cup.

Instead, invest in an office coffee machine that dispense fresh, hot coffee and other coffee varieties in minutes. There are many types of coffee machines available that will suit different budgets and requirements. This way, not only will employees save time, they will also save money too.

Productivity Myth #2: Taking coffee breaks decreases work output

Many companies are usually hesitant to install coffee machines in their offices for the fear of further encouraging their employees to take frequent breaks. The rationale is that if there’s an unlimited supply of good coffee in the break room, wouldn’t employees take advantage of that frequently instead of labouring in their workstations?

While it is true that coffee breaks take employees away from their desks, it is not necessarily true that these breaks instantly affect productivity. In fact, several scientific studies have proven the contrary. Taking micro breaks from work has been shown to be a productivity booster because employees get the chance to recharge and it also prevents them from becoming sluggish or bored. Getting up from their seats also promote better blood circulation and increased energy.

Often, office coffee breaks take the blame for lost productivity because it is very easy to point at empty desks but most of the time, this is not what’s causing the problem. It would be useful to carefully evaluate other office bottlenecks that may not be that obvious at first. For example, things like malware attacks or printer equipment breakdowns are often overlooked by business managers, while in reality, they are some of the most stressful causes of delays in offices. Review how practical solutions like managed print services can be applied so employees, especially the IT teams, can focus on their work rather than worrying about how to fix the printer.

Coffee breaks also become a venue for employees to socialise and foster positive relationships with one another. According to a study, relationships with colleagues is a critical factor that affects employees’ job satisfaction and happiness. And it’s not rocket science to know that having happy employees means productive employees as well!

Productivity Myth #3: Coffee Affects Mood Negatively

When trying to complete a task, “being in the mood” is important. This is often the game-changer on how efficient a project is delivered. When people are not in the mood to work or they’re suffering from mental issues like depression, finishing a task can be impossible.

There are studies that have shown that coffee can impact mood negatively because high doses may raise levels of anxiety, nervousness and jitteriness. There are also many productivity experts who claim that coffee is just a temporary mood-booster that will backfire in the long-run so it may be better to quit the brew altogether.

However, many contrasting studies have also shown that drinking coffee can have mood-boosting effects. According to several researches, coffee may promote a feeling of calmness and contentment. Coffee has also been linked to relieving depression and to helping people feel more optimistic. For some, just smelling the aroma of coffee can do wonders for their mood.

Many may argue that these effects are more psychological rather than physiological. But that does not discount the fact that coffee drinking does have positive effects for many people. Plus, coffee contains nutrients like B vitamins and antioxidants that are beneficial to the human body.

Brew or False?

Coffee drinking has many documented benefits and it has helped millions of people around the world get through that difficult work day. However, the claims that coffee is a productivity killer will always be present, along with conflicting studies to prove it.

While this may sound confusing, the best way is to evaluate how coffee affects your work individually and take it from there. Remember that having  too much of anything is not good for you so while a few cups a day may be beneficial, it’s plain common sense that drinking gallons of caffeine every single day is going overboard.

Nathan is a business advisor and business blogger at Biznas. He has helped many clients solve their business problems, and now imparts his advisory knowledge onto others to help them improve their businesses too.