Your calendar is packed with deadlines, conference calls, and meetings. So. Many. Meetings. Why is that? Most of us waste up to 40% of our time in meeting rooms where the topics are usually not relevant to our role – stifling our productivity. But what if there was a different way, a better way even, to conduct and attend meetings that aren’t a drag? What if you used short coffee breaks for productive meetings?
Hit the Ground… Walking?
Yes, walking. But hear us out. The average office worker is stuck on their bum for 9.3 hours a day – which is usually more time than we actually sleep (7.7 hours is the average if you were wondering). We tend to not even question the sedentary nature of office jobs because this is just how we’ve been wired to think things should be. But in fact, we should be doing just the opposite with overwhelming evidence from various studies showing a direct link between diseases like breast and colon cancer to our lack of physical activity. With myriad studies showcasing the benefits that exercise has on our physical and mental health, businesses are increasingly incorporating physical activity into their daily operations.
A study conducted by Stanford University on the positive effects walking has on creativity found that a whopping 81% of participants came up with more novel and appropriate ideas after walks – regardless of location! The change of scenery from a cubicle or an office’s bland walls triggered new neural-pathways in the brain, inspiring fresh ideas and new solutions to problems, providing that mental boost needed to excel and power through the day.
If the study isn’t proof enough for you, take a look at business juggernauts like Apple and Facebook – companies known for employing some of the best minds in the world. Walking meetings are preferred by leaders like Mark Zukerberg and the late Steve Jobs to keep their employees fresh and uplifted. It’s no surprise that they’re taking over the world – they’re powered by forward thinkers whose ideas have been nurtured simply by challenging office norms.
Add to that productivity punch by combining that physical activity with everyone’s favorite stimulant – caffeine! Get a pick-me-up and cultivate new ideas by holding coffee break meetings. Caffeine – whether from coffee or tea – increases energy, decreases fatigue, enhances cognitive functions and capabilities, and decreases the sense of effort associated with physical activity (so that walk back to the office won’t seem like such a drag)!
The informal nature of a coffee break meeting provides a more open, accepting floor for collaboration than a stuffy meeting room and improves team bonding. Outside of the office, everyone is equal – with no clear hierarchy of leaders/managers versus employees. We’ve all been in that situation where we would like to speak up in a meeting to share ideas and insights, but don’t have the confidence to do so because the social setting is uncomfortable. A neutral playing field of a coffee shop, for example, changes this dynamic drastically.
This strategy works well for employees of Udacity, a Silicon Valley based edtech company. Employees often head to the rec room to brainstorm and “break the ice” when holding meetings. In an interview with livemint, Ishan Gupta, managing director of Udacity India says there’s a reason conference room meetings are becoming a thing of the past.
“Millennial teams have changed the dynamics of work meetings. While many meetings happen as telecons or as video conferences, for face-to-face meetings, we find moving from conference rooms to informal set-ups works really well.”
In essence, Java + Out of office = Improved collaboration and morale.
Like Everything in Life, Timing is Key
If you’re not sure when to schedule your coffee break meeting, take some advice from former Googlers Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. Being naturally inquisitive, the two decided to conduct a somewhat non-scientific experiment with their own habits to optimize their energy and focus – and what they found may surprise you.
To help get you out of bed, your body releases high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol levels are high – most people’s levels are highest between 8 and 9 am – introducing another stimulant to your body does little to help speed up the waking process. So instead of setting your coffee maker on auto-brew when your alarm goes off, wait until about 9:30 to have your first cup.
If 9:30 is too early for a meeting, aim to have a cup before it’s too late. Most people suffer the dreaded food coma shortly after lunch, so to combat sleepiness and keep you on your ‘A’ game, Knapp and Zeratsky suggest imbibing some black gold 30 minutes before that anticipated slump hits. The trick to caffeine is to drink it before your midday decline, because if you wait until you are tired to drink it, it’s already too late. If you need help remembering when to schedule your break, schedule a recurring event in your Spike calendar to keep you on your toes.
Added Value To Go
With attractive corporate culture being a huge selling point for prospective employees now more than ever, celebrated and successful companies set themselves apart from the rest thanks to out-of-the-box procedures that make employees feel valued.
Studies have shown that, on average, happy employees were up to 12% more productive, while an unhappy employees productivity dropped by 10%. No matter the size of your company, collaborative coffee breaks can be easily incorporated into any calendar. While the benefits are many and we can sit here all day and list even more, we suggest you stop reading, get up, grab a colleague, and go collaborate over a cup of joe to have a productive meeting.