Does coffee really boost your productivity in the office?

Coffee has a lot of ardent fans who boast the positive effects that it has on their lives. But does coffee really boost your productivity? Many researchers have found a correlation between the consumption of coffee and improved memory and cognitive function. A 2010 study at the University of Barcelona showed that, when consumed with sugar, coffee improves the efficiency of brain activity because it increases sustained attention and memory.

The benefits of coffee

Therefore, it can be argued that drinking a cup of coffee, especially with the added sweet taste of sugar can help you focus better at work, remember more things from meetings, solve problems faster, and ultimately complete more tasks during the day.

Moreover, a study published in the EFSA Journal in 2011 by a panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies on request from the European Commission highlights a link between caffeine and increased alertness and attention. So, if you’re feeling tired or less alert, particularly around the 3pm slump, a hot cup of coffee is bound to help you tackle that sluggish feeling and make you productive again.

As an added benefit of drinking coffee, the above-mentioned study also demonstrates the link between caffeine and increased fat oxidation leading to reduced body fat, body weight, and an increased release of dopamine, which is the feel-good chemical in our brains.

It is obvious why so many people around the world drink coffee, whether they work in offices or in another type of work arrangement. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, the average American consumes around 2.7 cups of coffee per day, which has not changed since 2012, and is very similar to the figure in 1999. What’s more, 11% of the participants in the survey drink four or more cups of coffee a day. Only 36% of participants reported that they don’t drink any coffee.

Too much coffee

The benefits of drinking coffee explained above and their contribution to increased productivity is counteracted when too much coffee is consumed. However, how much is too much varies from one individual to another. What is certain is that coffee can cause addiction which leads to increased consumption. This, in turn, causes a series of issues detailed below.

When consumed late in the day, coffee affects the quality of sleep, making you tired throughout the day and more alert at night. It is known that caffeine blocks adenosine, a chemical in our brain that causes drowsiness. While consuming a limited amount of coffee blocks these receptors making you alert and productive, too much coffee, especially when you’re already feeling tired can lead to a build-up of adenosine which will make you crash. In the long-run, caffeine consumption in large doses can cause a burnout at work or even anxiety attacks.

Too much coffee can increase your stress levels causing you to make rash decisions, or to see things at work in a negative light, which indirectly affects your productivity and, more directly, your overall performance.

Lastly, even if you decide to quit coffee, whether by reducing the number of cups per day or going cold-turkey, the withdrawal effects you may experience can cause headaches, fatigue, and a generally negative mood which, in turn, can affect your productivity levels.