Free tea and coffee facilities for employees cost businesses around £276 per year, per employee. If you have a large workforce that cost could soon add up, but hold fire before you commence a cull of this pretty basic benefit as it could end up costing you more money in the long term.

Phsychologists have urged employers to consider the benefits of providing hot drinks for staff after research into the office based brewing habits of over 120 tea and coffee drinkers found that the average time taken to make a cup of tea or coffee in the workplace was two minutes and one second.

This cost employers taking part in the survey 58 pence per cup made. But the research showed time taken away from the desk was not wasted time, with 72 percent of those involved in the study engaging in conversation with fellow employees, and of those, 69 percent had work related conversations.

Organisational Psychologists Helen Hughes and Mark Robinson, from Leeds University Business School concluded the wider benefits of tea breaks may substantially outweigh their costs. They said: “People tend to solve problems at work by talking to the people that are in their network, and very often these are the people in their work team or who they sit near. A tea break may be one of the few opportunities that people have to network, by chatting to, or bumping into, colleagues who are not in these circles. Chats of this kind can also be a great opportunity to share knowledge and news about work-related issues, thereby improving performance and efficiency.”

This kind of basic employee benefit often goes unappreciated and is seen as a prerequisite, but can you imagine the uproar if you were to take away such a facility? I wouldn’t like to be on the firing line of that one!

A similar ‘break-related’ benefit that often gets overlooked is allowing staff the opportunity to take a nap at lunchtime. Studies show that employees are most productive between the hours of 10:00-12:00 and 15:00-16:00 with tiredness really kicking in after 8 hours on the go. A NASA study has also shown that a nap of just 26 minutes can boost performance by as much as 34 percent!

Food for thought in organisations that encourage long working hours with basic office facilities, you may be unintentionally ‘shooting yourself in the foot’.
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