Coffee really can boost productivity

Coffee: My Favorite Productivity Tip

On October 1, I joined Staples and a large online audience for a Twitter party about two of my favorite topics—coffee and productivity. I was delighted to participate, because the two go great...

Breakroom, Company Culture, Coffee

Recently, I joined Staples and a large online audience for a Twitter party about two of my favorite topics—coffee and productivity. I was delighted to participate, because the two go great together, kind of like peanut butter and jelly.

Without coffee, I'm just not right. I drink it every morning to rev my engines, as many of us do, both at home and at work. I start the day with one huge cup (really two cups in disguise).

I even joke about it in seminars. "What's the #1 productivity tip?" I ask my audience. "Focus?" they guess. "An organized to-do list? An empty inbox?" "No!" I reply, and then say, "COFFEE!" as I take a sip. It's a great way to get a laugh and kick off a seminar, and it works because almost everyone can relate to it.

According to a recent Staples survey, nearly half of American office workers drink at least three cups of coffee a day. (If their cups are like mine, it's more like six.) Here's another amazing fact: more than a third of American workers (37%) say they can't even get dressed for work without coffee! It makes sense that 44% of us can't even hold a decent conversation before we've had that first cup of joe—I've experienced that in my career more times than I can count—but the getting dressed stat was a new one for me and made me chuckle from the truth of it. Although one of my team members has recently admitted that he often takes a cup of coffee with him into the shower…

Coffee may not be a miracle drug, but it's an inexpensive and easy way to boost productivity—not just yours, but also your entire team's. Not everyone drinks coffee, but I guarantee you that investing in a nice coffeemaker and plenty of supplies will help keep your team's engines kicking all day long, as it wakes them up and sharpens their ability to focus.

In particular, I find that having my Keurig coffeemaker and a variety of K-cups on hand is a mood-lifter even without the caffeine boost. It's so fun to pick out the variety I'm feeling that day. K-cups are easy to use and every single cup of coffee is fresh-brewed. Best yet, you're not at the whim of someone else's tastes in the office. I've known people who like their coffee so strong you can stand a spoon up in it. Even those who don't drink coffee can benefit from brewers that produce hot water at the touch of a button, perfect for everything from herbal tea to hot chocolate and instant oatmeal.

86% of the 2,600 workers surveyed in the the Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index said they were at least somewhat happy at work.  Exactly half of them were ­very happy. I'll bet those are the companies with the best coffee and beverage services. After hearing so often about low engagement rates in American business, figures like these are like a breath of fresh air. Or at least fresh coffee.

But did you know that even among the same group of people, 52% felt burned out? Most of us know that burnout decreases productivity (62%), but meanwhile, 76% ­also concluded that taking more breaks increases productivity.

Hmmm, now where have we heard that word "break" used before…? Oh yes: coffee break! But seriously, we all need to force ourselves to take the breaks we need. The two-breaks-a-day rule is in place for a good reason: regular breaks help workers recharge their energy and creativity. And if you just happen to have some great coffee on hand, all the more reason to step away from the computer for 15 minutes. And forget about using your breaks to check Facebook or Twitter. Staples discovered in its Coffee Day Survey that three out of four American office workers would give up social media before coffee if forced to choose.

Let's just hope it never comes to that!