Many people start and maintain their day through a rhythm of coffee intake. This is part of your work routine much like the habits and rituals that sustain your other daily routines. You know the impact coffee has on you, but what are the effects on a group, especially in a meeting context?

As it happens, there's validity in heading into a meeting with a cup of coffee in hand, and it's better when everyone has a cup.

New Study Reveals Coffee Makes Meetings More Productive

There's an art and a science to using coffee to orient yourself, and past research only focused on coffee's effects on individuals.

A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology recently analyzed performance efforts in group tasks by conducting experiments involving roughly 70 undergraduates of a Midwestern university.

Think about it -- a significant amount of coffee consumption typically occurs in a group setting. This prompted researchers to gather some participants in small groups over coffee for 30 minutes.

After coffee, those groups discussed an article on the Occupy movement and offered ideas on this topic in a graduate school discussion competition. Other groups had coffee after talking about the article, rather than beforehand.

Those in the study rated personal and group performance more positively when drinking coffee before a discussion. Coffee served at meetings made participants more productive and focused on group talks, while increasing their participation levels and leaving them feeling more positive about everyone's contributions.

Is It Group Ritual or the Caffeine?

The people who had the coffee earlier on rated performance levels higher, for themselves and the group. Researchers wondered whether it was the ritual of drinking coffee with others or the caffeine in action that made participants feel positive.

In a second experiment, researchers switched it up and gave some groups caffeinated coffee while others received decaffeinated coffee. Would participants react differently when caffeine wasn't a factor?

The groups who drank caffeinated coffee still rated personal and group participation highly, and they exhibited greater levels of alertness and willingness to participate in another discussion with their group again.

Groups who consumed decaffeinated coffee didn't exhibit this level of results. Also, audio recordings revealed more thoughtful and relevant statements in the groups who had caffeinated rather than decaffeinated coffee.

Researchers pointed to the greater levels of alertness as essential to improved group work over the focus on caffeine as the catalyst. Caffeine revealed itself as a vital factor, but the higher level of alertness enabled the caffeinated coffee consuming groups to contribute more meaningful discussion points.

Start Serving Coffee

Imagine easing into a meeting with relaxed conversation over coffee rather than sitting down in tight suits and wishing you were lying in bed. Rituals add to routines, and the more enjoyable they are, the more positive and productive performance becomes.

Businesses should serve coffee in all meetings to make them more engaging, allow more active discussions, and provide a forum for innovative presentations.

Business leaders might create a coffee bar, or bring in a barista to teach employees how to make their favorite coffee drink.

If research says you should drink more coffee, especially at meetings, who wants to argue? Drink more coffee at meetings, and get more done with your team.

Published on: May 17, 2018