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Serial Coffee Offenders and Smokos Vex Australian Employers

July 17, 2011

Australian businesses are struggling with the smoko and the serial coffee offender in regard to their effects on productivity. The smoko – smoker – and the coffee drinker who must leave the office for the local coffee bar five to six times a day - can take an hour of productivity from their employer daily. Management and employees share opposing points of view in a recent article on the Sunday Mail’s online news (Queensland).

Since a smoke break can last as little as five minutes, and a coffee break is at least twice that, the coffee addicts are actually more of a problem now than the smokers. Management feels that if productivity is heavily affected, the employee will not get promoted. Going out for coffee up to six times a day isn’t good for the teamwork approach of many offices. Even so, management expressed that they don’t want to run a “nanny state”.

From the employee’s point of view, the walk outside in the fresh air to the coffee bar is refreshing and uplifting and employees get “antsy” if they don’t get enough coffee breaks during the day. The article quotes a “workplace and teamwork” expert who states that having regular coffee breaks enhance productivity. Unfortunately she didn’t state how many of these breaks make up the optimal number. The point is also made that both smoke and coffee breaks are social times in the workday, implying that they serve a need.

According to this article, it seems commonplace in Australia to leave the office for coffee. There is no mention of an employee lounge with coffee, which is the norm in the US. Some workers even have their personal coffee maker on their desks. Australia’s workplace guidelines do recommend two short breaks and one longer meal break during the workday, for most situations, so taking six could be excessive, depending on the type of job.

A good solution would be to provide coffee for employees in the office so they wouldn’t have to leave more than twice a day. With the ease and quality of single serve E.S.E. and capsule coffee and espresso makers, both employers and employees can find a win-win solution to the serial coffee offender problem. Even if the employer charges for coffee (remember the coffee kitty?), both still come out ahead. After all, with delicious specialty coffee pods available, why leave the office?



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