We've all seen the havoc coffee deprivation can wreak on an office in the morning. Without your favorite hit of caffeine, you might drag your grumpy, foggy-headed self through work all day. Now evidence suggests that your a.m. americano actually smells like team spirit. The shared coffee pot in the kitchen is doing a lot of heavy lifting.
Researchers at Ohio State University wanted to find out how caffeine affected team performance, not just individuals. It turns out there may be a benefit bigger than the sum of its parts. The OSU team found that groups tended to rate performance at a meeting — both their own and others' — more highly if everyone consumed coffee beforehand. The key is alertness.
"We suspect that when people are more alert they see themselves and the other group members contributing more, and that gives them a more positive attitude," said co-author Amit Singh in a press release. But that's not all: Groups that drank caffeinated coffee stayed more on topic than those given decaf or no coffee at all. And even though study participants discussed a controversial topic, the caffeinated groups said they were more willing to continue the conversation and work together.
It's easy to focus on the downsides of coffee, from the bite it takes out of budgets to the way it can ruin our sleep. But with results like this OSU study's, it might be worth reminding yourself that you can time your caffeine intake for maximum performance at work. (Good thing Starbucks offers free refills too.)