Research has claimed that the average British worker loses 24 minutes a day to making tea and coffee. This equates to an annual loss of £400 worth of man hours, an average of 190 days of “lost productivity” over the course of a lifetime.
But should these tea breaks really count as "lost productivity"? In my experience, people who take regular tea breaks actually get more done than those who don't...
Tea breaks make us social
If we spent our whole lives indoors, glued to our computers and only socialising on Facebook, people would tell us to get out more. The same applies to the workplace. We spend all of our working hours staring at our screens and emailing people in the same room as us.
A 10 minute tea break will break up the monotony of the sedentary office lifestyle and will help keep us happy at work and ultimately, more productive.
Takeaway: Want your staff to be happier and more productive? Encourage them to take more tea and coffee breaks.
Tea breaks give us a chance to rest
Regular breaks are integral to productivity. Professor of Organizational Behaviour & HR at Rotman School of Management, John P. Trougakos, likens mental concentration to a muscle in this article from the New York Times.
“Mental concentration is similar to a muscle... It becomes fatigued after sustained use and needs a rest period before it can recover, he explains – much as a weight lifter needs rest before doing a second round of repetitions at the gym.”
Takeaway: Take a tea break between tasks to clear your head and stay productive all day long.
The chemical effects of tea
The jury is still out on whether tea (or caffeine) can physically increase alertness, attention and therefore productivity, especially in the workplace.
Peter Rogers of the University of Bristol has conducted various studies on the effects of caffeine, concluding that “workers would perform equally well if not consuming caffeine at all”.
However, tea contains a lot more than just caffiene. Rogers’ research has suggested that an amino acid called theanine, which is found in tea, can actively reduce blood pressure and have an overall relaxing effect on the consumer.
Professor Andy Smith of Cardiff University researched the effects of caffeine on sleep deprived US Navy Seals. Smith found that caffeine has little effect on alertness and productivity unless the consumer is already tired.
Professor Smith hails the tea break as integral to “restoration of function”. In other words, indulging in a tea break helps restore our physical and cognitive functioning to as close to normal as possible.
Tip: Go for a caffeine boost when you're feeling tired but don't expect it to make you productive if you're well rested.
So tea breaks are good for me, right?
Whether or not the chemicals in tea perk us up or relax us, regular tea breaks are sure to have a positive effect on productivity.
Stress and fatigue will crush your productivity and if you’re not taking regular breaks, your work is going to suffer. A tea break is a great reason to get up from your desk and give your poor brain a rest. So next time your boss complains about you wasting time with tea breaks, show them this article and let them eat their words.
About the author
ATTIC (an acronym for All The Tea In China), was started by couple Anne and Ric in 2006 after Anne went to China and recognised what Chinese tea had to offer the West. Order online and get ATTIC tea delivered wherever you are.
Do tea breaks help you get more done or just slow you down?