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How Coffee Became a Workplace Staple

Posted on 05/02/14 in Java Java Java
Coffee at WorkThat classic scene of a businessperson stopping to pick up a to-go mug before an important client meeting or of an employee getting a manager's morning latte is basically ubiquitous in American culture. As we know, the coffee maker is a staple in many office environments as well - both to keep employees awake and to function as a conversation space. When did this happen and why? Let's take a closer look at what makes coffee such a workplace staple in the US.

The Rise of Coffee at Work

The history of the coffee break is pretty straightforward, and only arose in the past 100 years. Numerous coffee companies and towns across the nation claim that they were the first to offer workers a chance to pause and have a cup o' Joe. Coffee breaks are even unionized! A myriad of unions in the US require coffee breaks as part of their contracts.

Does Coffee Really Help Productivity?

Actually, yes! Studies have shown that caffeine helps workers perform better. Night shift workers don't make as many mistakes as their under-caffeinated colleagues - probably because they're not falling asleep on the job. Coffee also has a number of pain relieving properties, easing neck, shoulder, forearm, and wrist pain, which eliminates some of the distractions of deskwork.

Coffee also accounts for more camaraderie in the workplace. Sort of like the proverbial water cooler, researchers at MIT have found that when employees take coffee breaks together, their individual productivity levels increase.

The Science Behind Coffee's Benefits

So, how does it all work? A number of controlled trials have examined the beneficial effects of coffee, showing improved memory, vigilance, and overall cognitive function. The cognitive benefits are so pronounced that studies from the Archives of Internal Medicine and the Radiological Society of North America have even shown that two cups of coffee per day could reduce the risk of depression in women and Alzheimer's in all genders.

Self-assessment with regard to coffee and other caffeinated beverages is also a factor. 79% of respondents to a Harris poll said coffee and tea made them more productive in the workplace and more valued by their employers.

Finally, caffeine is a well-known psychoactive drug, which means it can actually make you "smarter" by blocking off adenosine, a neuronal inhibitor. This improves mood and reaction time and keeps employees at the top of their game mentally and emotionally, which ultimately means greater output.

Author: Robert Stillman CEO

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