The importance of the coffee break (even during remote work)
Coffee break? It is the best ally for productivity. "Unplugging" is good for both mind and body. With good coffee, things get even better.
- Once underestimated, today the coffee break is widely valued as it is recognized as a treasured ally for the psychophysical well-being of workers.
- Coffee breaks made their appearance in the world of work more than a century ago. In Italy it only started being discussed in 1968.
- Duration and number of breaks: this is, in brief, what the Italian law protects.
- Less tension and stress, more well-being and a better mood: discover the main benefits of regular breaks.
- An ideal coffee break? It also depends on the right coffee and the right space (even when working from home).
Lost time? No, a good investment
To most people it looks like a fleeting pause between one task and another, between a call to make and an email to send. Yet, for body and mind, a coffee break is a real, much-needed breath of fresh air. All the more so if it is accompanied by a good cup of coffee. The coffee break was once perceived as "wasted time", detracting from productivity. Today, on the contrary, it is recognized as a precious ally for the psychophysical well-being of workers. A coffee break, in fact, has multiple benefits it allows the body to regenerate, promotes concentration and improves communication between colleagues. Various scientific studies¹ confirm it, as do companies which, unsurprisingly, dedicate ad hoc areas for relaxation and refreshments. And right now, coffee breaks are also essential for remote working.
Brief history of the coffee break
The habit of taking a coffee break gained momentum at the beginning of the 20th century, with the spread of the first models of coffee machines and, later, of vending machines. American companies were among the first to realize the advantages that a short break from work could have on the performance of employees.
In Italy, we had to wait until 1968, the year of the great mass social protests, for people to start talking about breaks during office hours. It was at that time, in fact, that people demanded more rights at work, including the right to a few minutes' rest to recharge one’s batteries. The battle will be won and, over time, regulated. Of course, current law speaks generically about breaks. That is, everyone can spend it as they see fit; having a snack, going to the bathroom or stretching their legs. Yet, coffee is so universally loved that it gave birth to the expression "coffee break".
What does Italian legislation provide for?
According to current Italian legislation, breaks from work are allowed only under specific conditions, and unless otherwise specified in collective agreements. In general:
- if your daily working time exceeds six hours, you are entitled to a ten-minute break;
- if you work at a computer, you are entitled to a 15 minute break every two hours (the breaks are not cumulative and cannot be taken at the start or end of your shift).
Choosing the right time to take a break is essential. It is best to respect the productivity and organizational needs of the company to avoid creating inconvenience. Even if this is what the regulations on coffee breaks say, it is equally true, however, that, over the years, various methods have been established to encourage optimal alternation between work and breaks. Among these is the well-known tomato technique. This involves a 5 minute break every 25 minutes of work. After two hours, the break can be extended to half an hour.
Why a coffee break is good for you
Whatever formula you choose to manage your working time, whether in the office or at home, taking a moment to enjoy a good cup of coffee brings with it a number of benefits. Firstly, because, as we often remember, a good coffee should be enjoyed at the right time, without frenzy. It is also an excellent vehicle for socializing among colleagues. More generally, coffee breaks are good for the body because they contribute to:
- relieving tension and stress;
- relaxing eyes and back;
- promoting blood circulation.
In short, by unplugging for a few minutes, well-being, mood and productivity are enhanced. Even those who work from home must take a break. The different rhythms risk, in fact, overshadowing it, and often end up with home-workers barely getting up from their chairs. And the risk of burnout is just around the corner....
The role of the right space and the right coffee
The place where a coffee break is consumed also contributes to making it a perfect moment. More and more companies are reserving a space for this ritual. An informal and cozy area, with comfortable seating and relaxing colors helps workers feel at ease and encourages people to get together. Equally important is being able to enjoy a quality coffee, prepared with a good machine that enhances the organoleptic characteristics of the beverage. To maximize the benefits of breaks, even those who work from home should organize their own coffee corner. Possibly in a different environment than the room in which they work. And, to avoid taking time away from the latter, it is advisable to already equip it with everything that is necessary for the coffee’s preparation. As an alternative to this, there are capsule espresso machines, such as our Gioia, to enjoy the best Bialetti espresso coffee combining taste and practicality. And, if you prefer to enjoy a coffee with some company, why not call a colleague to share your break with?
1Source: Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC); Let's have a cup of coffee! Coffee and coping communities at work; Daily microbreaks in a self-regulatory resources lens: Perceived health climate as a contextual moderator via microbreak autonomy.