Making the switch to working from home comes with a lot of changes, some of which you expect and others you never see coming. Whether you’re working from home by choice or by necessity, you probably anticipated the changes to your schedule, the new interruptions of family and pets, and the freedom of reporting to work wearing your favorite t-shirt and sweatpants.
Other changes are a little sneakier, like the impact of working from home on your diet and energy. Leaving behind your regular schedule, traditional work environment, and face-to-face interactions with colleagues can leave you making regular trips to the kitchen to help you focus and give you a little boost. But before you fill your favorite mug that first time, it’s worth considering whether you want to drink coffee working from home.
Changing your work environment is a great opportunity to bring a little extra awareness to other parts of your life, including the substances you eat and drink every day. If you’re new to working from home, you have a chance to create healthy habits along with your revised work schedule. On the other hand, if you’ve been working from home for months or years already and you’ve settled into some less productive routines, it’s never too late to make some changes.
If coffee has been an important part of your office life, working without it can feel like a strange notion, but now is a great time to consider whether to change your relationship with coffee for the future.
1) Flexible Schedules Can Lead to Overconsumption
When you’re working from home, your day is probably a lot more flexible than it was in the office. Even if you have a few meetings or phone calls scheduled, you probably have less external accountability to a precise start and end to your work day. You also may not have as many regular events throughout your work day, like a coffee break or lunch hour, or even a daily visit from a chatty coworker.
Without that kind of structure to your day, it’s easy to lose track of the signals that may have told you it was time for coffee. When you went into the office, maybe you were in the habit of having one cup when first arrived at your desk and a second cup at your daily afternoon staff meeting. Now, when you’re at home and in control of your own schedule, it’s easy for the first cup to happen when you wake up, followed by a refill when you sit at your desk, another refill when the dog asks to go out, and a fourth when you have your midmorning conference call. Before you know it, you’ve had a whole pot of coffee before lunch, and you haven’t even hit the mid-afternoon slump.
Scientific studies are increasingly showing the health benefits of moderate coffee consumption, but it’s easy to take that extra sip into overconsumption without even noticing. Drinking too much coffee can lead to disrupted sleep and changes to your resting heart rate and blood pressure. Without the benefit of a strict schedule to keep you mindful of your coffee consumption, drinking too much and potentially impacting your health is easier than ever.
2) Too Much Coffee Can Lead To Weight Gain
For the estimated 63% of Americans who drink coffee every day, that delicious cup of caffeine is the cure to the energy slumps that are part of most people’s daily rhythms. However, many people don’t realize that the jolt that comes from their coffee is often followed by a second lull in energy. Those repeated energy swings can trigger hormonal responses that may lead to insulin resistance and weight gain.
The cycle of highs and lows that comes with drinking coffee can get even more dangerous when combined with the unlimited kitchen access and potential decrease in activity levels that are often part of working from home. For many people, a little bit of sugar or other simple carbohydrates can provide the same energy boost as a cup of coffee, and if there’s baked goods, candy, or other tasty sweets waiting just down the hall in the kitchen, they can be tough to resist when you’re fighting off the need to nap.
On top of the ready availability of snacks, working from home means less activity for many people. You’re not commuting, you may not be keeping up with your gym membership or your daily walks with coworkers, and you don’t even have a work friend on the other side of the building to get you up and stretching your legs. When your activity levels drop, even modest increases in your daily calorie consumption from more treats or a few extra cups of coffee with cream can really start to add up.
3) All of a Sudden, All That Coffee is Now on You
As work habits changed in 2020 and many more people started working from home, the news media started reporting in changes to the sales and sourcing patterns of two key commodities: toilet paper and coffee. For millions of people, these two essential parts of their work environment had been supplied by their employers, and working from home meant having to purchase these supplies for themselves.
While there may be no way around the need for toilet paper, coffee might be a more negotiable part of the day for many people. If your office always had a pot of coffee ready or a single-cup coffeemaker with an unlimited supply of pods, keeping up that same coffee habit when you move to working from home can be a rude awakening for your budget. When you’re paying for every bit of coffee you consume, the cost of those cups can creep up before you notice it. Cutting back or cutting coffee out completely might give your budget just the little bit of breathing room it needs.
4) Keep Your Coffee Habit Social
For hundreds of years, coffee has been a social beverage. From the intellectual coffeehouses of years gone by to the weekly coffee hours of today, getting together with friends over a cup of coffee has become a cherished social ritual.
By contrast, working from home can be isolating. No amount of videoconferences or instant messaging can compensate for the value of actual face-to-face interactions with colleagues and friends. Working from home has undeniable benefits, and many people find it to be preferable in many ways to going into an office. Even the most committed remote workers, however, frequently express concern about the lack of human interaction and social engagement that comes along with working and sleeping under the same roof.
So if you’re trying to cut back on caffeine while working from home, but you find yourself missing your social life and your beloved cups of coffee, try combining the two. Schedule a coffee date with friends or coworkers as a way to catch up on two of the things you miss most. Whether you’re meeting in person or just scheduling a Zoom call for social purposes, you’ll get the benefits of time spent with people whose company you enjoy. You’ll also be teaching your brain to associate coffee with social time, instead of mindlessly gulping one cup after another while responding to your endless string of emails. If you can’t cut out coffee completely, you can still make it feel a little more special.