Some people claim that they can’t do without it, while for others it is simply an opportunity to stretch their legs and have a quick chat with their colleagues. There are others, too, who use it as an opportunity to check messages and calls on their cell phone. The coffee break at work is a moment for relaxing and socializing which, according to some studies, would appear to have real benefits. Let’s see together what those are.
Coffee break: the benefits for socializing and productivity
A survey carried out in the United States by Tork has highlighted that, according to 90% of office workers, a break during working hours helps concentration, allows people to come up with better ideas and go back to their desks with more energy. And the benefits have been demonstrated in other research too. So what do these positive effects consist of?
● Interrupting our work for a moment and moving away from our work station is fundamental, first of all, for our bodies. Especially when we spend the whole day sitting at a desk, in front of a screen, our muscles, spinal column and our eyesight can all reap the benefits of a short break to stretch our legs. Five minutes of activity every hour help to combat the negative effects of this sedentary working style.
● Intellectual work requires our brains to work constantly, and every so often they need to take a break. A coffee break is just what we need for a few moments of distraction and to recover our mental alertness. In connection with this, one study found that a person’s decision making capacity is affected by tiredness: for those who have to make many decisions throughout the working day, a break would help us not to have to put this off and to always make an informed decision.
● As reported in Psychology Today, stopping for a few minutes makes us more motivated, especially with regard to long-term objectives. In fact, when we work, our pre-frontal cortex makes an effort and, if the necessary effort is extended, taking a short break helps to maintain concentration and find the right motivation.
● Even productivity and creativity, can see the positive effects of a coffee break. A further benefit comes from the fact that it reduces stress levels.
● Drinking a coffee and chatting with colleagues also helps people to socialize and creates a team ethic, with the added advantage of creating a more relaxed working atmosphere, in which it is easier to deal with difficulties and even the latest team members to arrive find it easier to integrate.
Allowing yourself a break is an excellent habit to adopt, but there are times when it is better to postpone: for example, it doesn’t make sense to break off in the middle of a job that we are totally absorbed in, if we don’t feel the need. It is better to make the most of that moment, finish off the task in hand and then enjoy our well-earned break.
Coffee break, when is the best time to take it?
As we have seen, there are many different positive effects of the coffee break, but is it all thanks to the drink we are sipping? Coffee certainly brings certain benefits but, according to the studies, the benefits we have mentioned derive more from the break itself. However, it is important to underline that, according to a U.S. researcher, there is an ideal time to take your break in order to get the maximum benefit from your coffee: between 9.30 and 11.30 in the morning. Indeed, in mid-morning, our levels of cortisol (the hormone that keeps us awake) physiologically begin to fall. Thus, taking a break in this time frame is a good habit which will help to renew energy levels and continue working actively in the following hours.
The coffee break according to the Swedish: Fika
Among the European countries famous for their work-life balance and their work ethic, there is Sweden, where the coffee break is a deep-rooted ritual. It is known as Fika, a word which comes from the dialect term which in the past was actually used to describe the coffee itself. The drink itself is actually just one of the main elements of this moment of the day, which is also useful for socializing: in order to enjoy the benefits to the full, it would be best to spend the break in a specially dedicated room, far from computers and telephones, and talk to colleagues.
How do you spend your coffee break? Is it a fundamental part of the working day for you, too?