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A survey of European workers has revealed that workplace coffee drinking habits are shaped by time, taste, and the desire for a productivity boost.

The survey, commissioned by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) and conducted by YouGov, had over 8,000 respondents from six European countries, including the UK.

Workers were asked about their coffee consumption during the working day to understand when and why they chose to drink coffee, and whether they felt it was linked to productivity.

The survey found that 68 per cent of respondents said they always or often drink coffee during the working day. The leading reasons for drinking coffee during work were: liking the taste (56 per cent); to have time to pause and rest while drinking or preparing coffee (40 per cent); and to feel more alert or less tired (both 29 per cent).

However, just over a quarter (29 per cent) said that they didn’t drink coffee because they didn’t have time or were too busy to drink coffee at work. Given that those who drank coffee did so for pleasure, relaxation, or to feel more alert, this could be an indication that some people are missing out on these elements because of their workload. In total, around one in ten respondents (11 per cent) said they never took a short break at work to eat or drink something during the working day.

Across every country ISIC surveyed, on average, coffee was the drink most closely associated with productivity, with 43 per cent saying it improved their productivity over other caffeinated and non-caffeinated options. Overall, 63 per cent of respondents selected short breaks as being most likely to improve their work productivity.

Across all countries, 56 per cent said they take 1-2 short breaks per day to have something to eat or drink; while almost a quarter (23 per cent) said they take 3-4 short snack/drink breaks.

Those who drink coffee during working hours are most likely to drink coffee between 9-11am (59 per cent) – with the exception of Finland, where workers prefer to drink coffee between 1-3pm (57 per cent). Across all countries surveyed, however, there was a clear pattern of coffee consumption: peaking in the morning, with a slight rise at lunchtime (1-3pm), and then becoming increasingly lower during the rest of the afternoon.

A significant proportion (56 per cent) of people who drank coffee on their commute to work said that it helped wake them up, and over a third (36 per cent) said it helped them feel more alert.

ISIC’s survey results include some potentially interesting implications for workplace productivity. OECD data has shown that longer hours are not correlated with improved productivity – hence the number of survey respondents who claim they have no time for a break or a coffee may actually be less productive than their peers.

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