It is a pretty safe bet that if you work in an office or any other professional setting, a major workplace perk is the bevy of refreshments offered to you. It is common practice for companies to offer a variety of beverages to their employees.

Small businesses, corporations, schools, police stations and even construction sites generally provide coffee and water to the valuable employees that work there. Different companies vary widely on the products they provide for their workers, but one of the newest, most unique ways to provide beverages to employees is to have office drinks on tap.

It’s true that the ways in which employees choose to wet their whistle have come a long way since their tried-and-true ancestor: the water cooler. Does your company provide quality drinks to their employees?

If not, just how far back in the corporate stone ages does your company culture lie? From the water cooler to the coffee pot to various beverages on tap, companies are developing new ways to provide the best for their most important resource: their employees.

The Big Beverage Bang

The first water cooler was said to have been invented in 1906 by Halsey Willard Taylor and Luther Haws. At that time, they were looking to solve the problem of dirty and contaminated water that was causing typhoid.

It didn’t take very long for their invention to start a new corporate trend. By the 1930s, water coolers were an office staple, creating commonplace scenarios and sayings (“water cooler talk”) that withstand the test of time.

Soon after, water cooler providers were developing new ways to improve their product. Higher-tech water filters made their way into water coolers, increasing the appeal of an already popular office item.

Heated water was then introduced. Eventually, the tankless water cooler was invented, saving companies on cost and allowing them to be more ecologically conscious.

To supplement the appeal and practicality of the office water cooler, around 1902, Barcolo Manufacturing Company instituted the first “break” for their employees. At the time, this was unheard of.

There were no labor laws requiring companies to provide breaks for their employees and many businesses still held the idea that any time away from work was wasted time.

Luckily for the American worker, laws and studies eventually showed improvement in productivity and helped to turn the tide, allowing companies to embrace a positive work-life balance.

With newly-instituted break times and new technology for providing beverages, water cooler culture took off. It didn’t take long for businesses to begin hosting coffee vending machines in their office break rooms.

This was well-received by bosses and employees alike. A cup of coffee only took 3 seconds to make and it kick-started productivity. This was seen as a win all-around.

Later, in the 1950s, a corporate interest company named the Pan-American Coffee Bureau created an iconic commercial that changed the way people thought about their daily coffee. They began the catchy phrase “coffee break” that started a trend that became a custom in the American workplace.

This company’s interest was the increase in coffee sales in Northern and Central America. By the late 50s and 60s, companies were realizing the greater benefits of newly-named coffee breaks.

Not only did it improve morale and create a productivity boost, it also allowed people to discuss ideas, collaborate and develop work relationships with people in the same building.

Since that time, coffee and coffee breaks have been a part of our workplace culture in America. As a result, companies began to see the benefit of having a special space set apart for employees to grab their some water or a cup of hot coffee.

The office break room was born. Like office drinks, the break room has also undergone significant changes. From a few folding chairs and a tiny microwave to healthy snacks, specialty coffees and comfortable seating, the office lounge has come a long way.

If you visit a company office building today, you’ll most definitely see fresh, cooled water, quality coffee and a fun space for employees to gather. What you may see are drinks on tap, a growing trend borne of years of development in office culture.

Providing anything from cold brew coffee to tea and kombucha, and even beer on tap, tapped beverages provide refreshment of a higher standard for happier, more productive employees.

Top Companies on Trend

Whether you are looking to stay on the top of the trends or simply want to provide your employees with unique perks, you’ll find yourself in good company installing a tap at your office. Many startup companies and start-up-gone-big companies provide office drinks on tap.

Big names like Amazon, Buzzed, Ebay, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and Yelp all boast tapped break rooms. In some, you’ll find only tapped beer. Amazon varies in what it provides but for now, it’s sticking with beer.

Ebay has seven beers on tap and is committed to supporting local and seasonal brews. Facebook and Yelp followed suit. One might wonder about the practicality of serving alcohol in the workplace, but these companies claim that having office drinks on tap increases efficiency rather than slowing it.

Twitter, Reddit and Buzzfeed have gone a different route with their tapped drinks. Opting for all-day refreshments, these employers have chosen to provide cold brew coffee on tap.

Cold-brew coffee is created a different way than traditionally brewed coffee. This changes the taste and texture. In addition to beer and cold brew coffee, many companies are also jumping on board to provide tea and kombucha on tap.

One might ask why companies are going out of their way to finance and encourage this trend. It may be counter-intuitive to use resources (sometimes hard-to-come-by resources, in the case of small businesses and startup companies) on something that doesn’t generate revenue.

But the reality is that there is a monetary benefit. Though office drinks on tap, a nice break room and other workplace perks don’t directly affect the bottom dollar, they do affect the employee’s productivity, engagement and contentment with their company, which creates a more efficient work.

It’s no secret that people need breaks during their day. If breaks are necessary for a healthy work environment–and if employees are going to take breaks anyway–isn’t it wise for a company to offer positive internal ways for their employees to take a break?

It can also improve your company’s brand image. Despite the associated cost, there are very real benefits.There is another benefit that is growing more and more important in today’s world. Employees are making the decision to work remotely, either from their home or an “office” of their own, like a library or coffee shop.

Though research shows this does increase a person’s productivity and allows them to get more done, it also shows that creativity, collaboration and company engagement take a big dip. Companies wanting to tap into their employees’ creative, hard-working minds will need to compete with the pull of working in pajamas.

Popular Office Drinks on Tap

For those committed to making the change in their office environment, it’s important to know there are plenty of choices when looking at office drinks on tap. Cold brew coffee on tap is a good choice for having a popular, trendy and tasty drink on tap while continuing the tradition of offering quality coffee in the office.

Though it is very different from traditional coffee, and therefore appeals to a different group, it is hard to argue with its taste and effect. The cold brewing process means the acidic taste that some find displeasing in hot brewed coffee is no longer there. It is also a healthier drink.

There are many ways to flavor cold brew coffee, just as you are used to with your steaming cup of hot joe. Many opt to sweeten the drink with brown sugar or nutmeg.

Some choose ginger or vanilla for their drink. With cold brew, you can also find many choices ranging from the very dark to a french roast. Changing up your routine does not mean sacrificing options.

Similarly to cold brew coffee is iced tea on tap. This cold refreshing drink can combat dehydration and increase productivity. Many people favor a cold iced tea instead of the heavy choice of coffee. The good news is these teas don’t sacrifice taste.

There are multiple options for people who prefer black tea, green tea or like their drink with a little fruit flavor. Pulling on a little lever to release a cool stream of a refreshing drink can keep employees happy, healthy and on track.

An up-and-coming drink that many companies are offering is Kombucha tea. Kombucha is a sweet tea which is fermented using types of bacteria and yeast to aid in the fermentation and flavor.

There are many that claim Kombucha has great health benefits, which is likely why its popularity is surging. Kombucha is said to aid in digestion and act as a probiotic. Employees in many businesses can enjoy this tasty and unique beverage as one of their office drinks on tap.

Another pull of Kombucha tea is the many flavors in which it can be consumed. Some popular fruit flavors are apple and blueberry. Many people will combine these flavors with cinnamon or basil.

Finally, the last option for an office drink on tap is craft beer. Many companies offer craft beer from their local breweries and enjoy a fun, lively atmosphere.

Culture of Play

There is a new workforce out there. New employees are coming to expect the kind of treatment they see in their friend’s workplaces and in the media.

These employees are a high-energy, deeply creative group. Thanks to pop-up startups that made it big, like Facebook and Four Square, we now have lasting impressions of their completely different ideas on office culture.

Their open office concepts, freedom (and encouragement) to take vacation time and perks like healthy in-office snacks and catered lunches are certainly appealing.

Office drinks on tap are very much part of this fun and creative culture. The investment spent on this product is an investment in collaboration, in creativity and in creating an office culture for the the 21st century.

Part of good leadership is hiring good people to do the job and then letting them do it. You’d be hard-pressed to find studies that claim micromanagement is a positive leadership style.

To put this policy into practice, invest in creative ways to bring your people together, make them happier and more engaged at work, and send a message of how much the employees are valued.

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About Joe Simonovich

Joe has a strong background in marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). The start to his career as a customer service representative has given him a unique foundation and different perspective on almost all business-related situations. Joe is now the Chief Growth Officer (and Director of Creating Awesomeness) at Corporate Essentials. He brings a unique skill set and a hands-on approach to any leadership role and believes that hustle is simply a way of life.