Coffee : Harnessing the habit
Most offices allow employees free coffee and numerous cigarette breaks as standard elements of the work environment. A fruit bowl can often be found near the coffee machine but rarely turns out to be as popular.
While many employees appreciate this latitude and may even come to expect such accommodations, all too often these practices can become problematic in ways more devious than employers might suspect; abusive consumption of coffee (or energy drinks) can easily lead to severe health issues and, as with all addictions, such habits are governed by the law of diminishing returns.
Coffee grants humans a temporary boost of high energy; it kicks our brains into high gear and makes us focus on the task at hand. For a balanced individual, there is no greater ally than that of the morning cup.
Once that cup is followed by another, and another, the escalation to a frequency of a cup every hour can happen over the course of just a few weeks and lead to unfortunate consequences both to your workforce’s productivity and to your employee’s personal life balance.
Remember, you are spending time and money for coffee-providing devices, their maintenance and their endless supplies of refills.
An iron-fisted, prohibitive approach might seem appropriate but why not take the opportunity to influence healthier habits for your employees instead?
The trick is to provide healthier alternatives while making the obvious, easy caffeine kick just a bit harder to indulge in. Removing the necessary implements from the premises is a good start but it presents only a part of the solution.
What about striking a partnership with a nearby coffee house? Replacing onsite coffee with coupons for a free hot beverage might prevent the behavior from escalating. It might also send business their way and bring employees to ritualize a potentially positive social experience.
If your company size and/or structure can allow it, why not instigate a mandatory mid-afternoon tea break?
A common trait of coffee lovers is to associate their habit with the quenching of thirst, which could not be further from fact; coffee dehydrates and exponentiates trips to the bathroom. Thus, providing water bottles or routinely filled water jugs in common areas can also be a viable strategy to try out.
2016 is just around the corner! What better excuse than a brand new year to be creative and start fresh?