Grabbing a cup of coffee with a coworker, taking a coffee break, making a coffee run — coffee is a mainstay of the working environment. In fact, about two-thirds of workers (67 percent) always or often drink coffee at work.
While people primarily drink coffee in the workplace for the caffeine boost or the taste, coffee is about more than the delicious buzz. It’s a huge part of workplace culture and engagement, and workers put importance on the availability of high-quality coffee options.
Investing in a fun and tasty coffee experience can pay off when it comes to employee satisfaction and workplace engagement. Keep reading for coffee break perks that boost employee morale, collaboration, and productivity.
Why Coffee Culture Matters
It’s hard to beat the taste of a good cup of coffee. But many coffee drinkers don’t reach for that sweet, sweet nectar because of the way it tastes. In a study, 40 percent of workers drank coffee to take a break from work. And 26 percent reached for their mug to chat with colleagues.
These aspects of coffee drinking benefit employees and businesses. Taking a brief break from work gives the prefrontal cortex (PFC) a break, too. Your PFC is the part of the brain responsible for logical thinking, willpower, setting goals, and executive functioning. When you use your PFC for long periods without a break, it becomes fatigued just like any other part of your body. The result? You may be more prone to poor decision-making, reduced motivation, stress, and exhaustion. Taking a few minutes of downtime helps reset and reinvigorate the brain, leading to a more productive work session. For instance, in one study, participants who took 10 minutes of downtime were more likely to come up with innovative insights.
In addition, connecting with coworkers has benefits. Studies suggest that workplace chit chat contributes to employees’ positive emotions, promotes well-being, and fosters good workplace citizenship. It also allows for that all-important debrief about the latest rose ceremony in The Bachelor.
Coffee Perks for the Office
Given how important coffee is to a good work environment and overall employee well-being, here are some ideas to perk up the workspace in person and virtually.
Offer special in-office coffee perks
While the act of a coffee break is important, the coffee itself is important too. In one study, 71 percent of employees agreed it would help them feel valued if an employer provided high-quality coffee at work. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of employees said having high-quality coffee available in the office improved their daily work life. And 89 percent of employees who regularly drank high-quality coffee at the office felt motivated to give their best at work.
Millennials in particular place a big value on high-quality coffee options at work. They’re more likely than other generations to associate a thoughtful office coffee experience with productivity and engagement.
Here are some ideas for creating a special in-office coffee environment.
As employees come back to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping the coffee room safe is a big priority. Unfortunately, the handle of that community coffee pot can become a prime gathering spot for bacteria.
Invest in low-contact and individual brewing coffee options to allow coworkers to safely grab their cup without spreading germs. Instead of using a shared communal pot, low-contact coffee makers brew individual cups of coffee at the touch of a button. Employees can even operate some machines by cell phone.
Get a keg of cold brew
Companies can show they value their employees by investing in a cold-brew coffee kegerator. Cold-brew coffee is a fast-growing trend in the coffee world. Unlike iced coffee, which is hot-brewed coffee poured over ice, cold brew uses a slower extraction method. It emphasizes the nuanced flavors of the coffee beans and eliminates some of the acidity and bitterness of traditional coffee. In other words, cold brew tastes delicious.
Not only that, but it’s also convenient. You don’t need to wait for the coffee to brew or heat it in the microwave. Cold brew offers a high-quality, on-the-go coffee experience or a drink to linger over with colleagues.
Make it customizable
No matter what kind of coffee you buy, offer a wide variety of add-ins to allow employees to make a custom cup. When you stock up on creamers and sweeteners to suit all diets and food preferences, you help your employees feel valued.
Spice up the traditional cup of joe with flavored creamers such as French vanilla, hazelnut, or Irish cream. Artificial creamers aren’t for everyone. Stock the fridge with milk, including non-dairy alternatives such as oat or soy.
For coffee drinkers with a sweet tooth, supply packets of white sugar, sugar in the raw, and artificial and natural sweeteners. Lend a coffee shop flair to the break room with flavored syrups. Flavored syrups come in dozens of flavors, from almond to vanilla and everything in between, including unusual flavors such as pumpkin pie and chai.
While there’s nothing wrong with a traditional cup of coffee (and a lot right with it!), an espresso machine is a perk worth coming to work for. With an espresso machine, employees can craft lattes, americanos, mochas, cappuccinos, and more.
When you invest in an espresso machine, you may also help the environment. Instead of using throw-away cups at the local coffee shop for a daily latte, employees can use an office mug and cut down on trash.
Make coffee breaks work – virtually
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work. Even after it’s safe to return to work, remote arrangements will persist. In a study, the consulting group McKinsey & Company estimated that 20 to 25 percent of workers in certain industries could work from home up to five days a week without a loss of productivity. This percentage is four to five times more remote work than happened before the COVID-19 pandemic.
While employees can work remotely without a loss of productivity, a lack of interaction with coworkers can lead to loneliness and a decrease in morale. Virtual events and get-togethers can help boost morale and reengage employees. In our recent study, 60 percent of the most productive, engaged workers said their employers frequently offer virtual social events. Here are some ideas for how to gather the company virtually around a good cup of coffee.
Host a virtual coffee break
A virtual coffee break is a relaxed, stress-free way to reconnect “face to face” with colleagues. Rather than awkwardly sitting around on Zoom with a coffee mug in hand — quarantine fatigue is real! — come up with an activity for employees to rally around. For instance, you could show off your pooches or share your favorite recipes. Or research a list of conversation starters such as favorite podcasts, TV shows, vacations, or coffee brands.
Overcome Zoom fatigue and motivate everyone to come to the event by sending a gift card for a local coffee shop, Uber Eats, Doordash, or another delivery service. Treat everyone to their favorite fancy brew so employees can sip while they chat.
Hold a virtual home barista class
Ready for the next level of the virtual coffee break? Host a virtual home barista class! Help your employees learn more about coffee beans and coffee-making equipment, and see how experts make a perfect cup of coffee.
After your company has learned the ins and outs of brewing the perfect cup of coffee, offer a virtual coffee tasting. Supply everyone with a few different types of beans and expand your palates!
Need more ideas for virtual get-togethers? Check out our virtual team-building events ideas for other ways to get your team motivated and engaged.
Send a coffee gift card or care package
Coffee appreciation day is October 1, but you can appreciate coffee (and employees) any day of the week.
Offer gift cards to local coffee shops to make everyone feel valued. Or up the ante and offer a regular stipend to employees who can’t take part in the at-work coffee experience.
Show employees you care by offering a coffee care package as a pick-me-up. (And don’t forget to offer a virtual coffee break to savor the beans as a group!) An unexpected coffee treat is sure to get your employees buzzing.
Conclusion: Drink Up!
Whether in person or virtually, the coffee break is a huge part of office culture. Even in an age of remote work, your employees can gather around the coffee pot to get a brain break, reconnect, and enjoy a tantalizing cup of coffee.