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Get the Kettle On: How tea breaks cost employers £400 a year

Get the Kettle On: How tea breaks cost employers £400 a year

New research suggests that tea and coffee breaks at work are costing employers around £400 a year in lost hours. Should workers crack down on the tea-run, or is it a healthy pastime that keeps our minds fresh and productive?

Research by T6, who conducted a survey of 1,000 people, suggests that British workers lose as much as 24 minutes a day fetching, making and drinking hot drinks, which is said to cost their employer £400 a year in lost hours.

Around 4 in 10 workers make a hot drink for more than one colleague every day, and T6 claim that over a lifetime, the tea-run accounts for nearly 190 days of lost labour.

This may come as a shock to some people, but as an office worker myself, I find that stopping every few hours to make a hot drink or put the kettle on doesn’t feel like an enormous waste of time. The activity takes no more than a couple of minutes and ΓÇô armed with a fresh brew ΓÇô I usually feel refreshed and focused, which helps to break up the monotony of sitting in front of a computer screen.

“What are the pollsters saying? That we should just keep working at our desks with a glass of water beside us?” says Bill Gorman, chairman of the UK Tea Council, according to the BBC. “Tea drinkers are very sociable. It’s a caring thing to know how your colleagues take their tea,” he said.

It’s common knowledge that people lose their concentration every 20 minutes, and while it’s probably a bit excessive to get up and make tea this often, 2 or 3 times per day feels fairly normal. From my privileged position in front of the mini kitchen here at HQ, this certainly does seem like the norm for most people.

Professor of Organisational Psychology at Lancaster University Management School, Cary Cooper, says that breaks are an essential part of coping with office life.

“Nowadays we sit in front of screens not communicating eyeball to eyeball and even e-mail people in the same building. We need to make people more active and see other people. The coffee break is one way of doing this.”

Hot drinks such as tea and coffee also contain caffeine, which helps to combat fatigue and get people ‘back on form’.

But their restoration qualities go well beyond the energy found from caffeine. The warmth of a hot drink on a cold day, the ritual of making it, and the social aspect of coming together to make tea or pour out a cup for a colleague are treasured moments that help to break up the day, and get workers back on track with renewed focus.

“We warm our hands on them on a cold day, they’re comforting and play a big role in our everyday life,” says Professor Andy Smith, an expert in Occupational Health Psychology at Cardiff University. “Whatever the caffeine’s doing I’d say these 24 minutes aren’t wasted.”

What are your views on making drinks throughout the day – is it a waste of time, or does it help to keep you refreshed and motivated? Use the comment box below to share your thoughts.

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Author: | December 20, 2010 | 1 Comment

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