Free Coffee Service at Work
In this article, there are three advantages of having coffee service offered at your place of employment that will be dissected. In each one I will point out how they affect my performance and my engagement to the company I am employed.
The Cost Savings
It’s free! The company is picking up the tab for providing you a pot of coffee in an area of the office. You are guaranteed to get the freshest cup made if you hang out in the break area while the pot is still brewing and it cost you nothing. The health insurance premiums may have increased, your annual salary raise percentage may have decreased, but the cost of having coffee at work didn’t change.
Because of the rise in medical benefits and the lower than expected raise I received last year it has forced me to look to buy cheap coffee at home and look forward to the free fresh cup that starts my work day. They even have the expensive yellow sweetener. Double bonus.
The New Water Cooler
Yeah I know, my company encourages us to drink more water too. They even have given us our own personal water bottles to eliminate the waste and cost of the traditional Styrofoam cup. But we seem to gather at the coffee maker more than the water cooler.
That’s where the relationships are made. If your stuck at the desk all morning, get up and grab a cup of Joe and while you’re there, ask about the status of a project that is holding up your work. Or if you are in the market for an internal change it’s a great place to network. It’s almost like a mini-chamber of commerce meeting, a place to introduce your self, give an elevator pitch, and also to find out if you really want to work for “that guy.”
If you don’t believe me, try it the next time you are in the break area. Don’t say a word and watch the people around you. I have seen it happen especially on the first morning cup when everyone is supposed to be the grumpiest.
Face Time with the Boss
I work third shift and rarely get to see my reporting managers and directors. So I take the advantage of meeting with my director while he is making the first pot of the day and getting his cup of coffee. Every morning at 6 AM just as I am wrapping up my night I meet with the director, informally to recap any important issue that needs to be turned over to him. I still send him the traditional email of the report but this face to face conversation remains more personal.
By speaking with him directly, I am taking the temperature of his feelings about my performance and letting him know that even though he rarely sees my work in action I am actually working. I am however careful not to come off as though I am being the stereotypical brown-noser, but I do want to sincerely keep my face and my work subconsciously linked in his mind.
Would it make a difference if there were no free coffee at work?
Yes it absolutely would! Here is why.
First, I like coffee as most Americans do. I feel it helps give me the caffeine boost to get my day started productively, which is also a benefit for my company. And I enjoy being in that club, talking about how drinking coffee warms me up after coming inside from the cold weather, noting the flavors and even displaying my personalized mug.
Secondly, I get an opportunity to mingle with other people and interact professionally and socially if but only for a few minutes during a refill. These small meetings are productive and engaging for me to do my best at work, another benefit afforded to the company.
And lastly, I get to have more frequent feedback sessions on my performance to see if what I am providing in my job role is what is perceived as great work by the suits. They are the ones in control of my employment, salary increase, and workload planning.
So it would seem that having a coffee service on site at any office or company would be a benefit. But I think that the employers are gaining as much of an advantage from them as employees.
The break room is one place we all take for granted but a lot is happing there if you look a little closer. As stated in the examples above, you are saving money by not spending on a cup at the gourmet coffee shop and drinking the gratis brew at work. You get to engage other people for small socials and networking opportunities. And we have seen that spending five minutes with the boss in a neutral zone may be profitable for you long term.