While nicotine is addictive and, when taking in the form of smoking, is harmful, it also has benefits.
Nicotine has been shown to aid concentration and productivity, to reduce aggression and to able smokers to carry out repetitive tasks better than non-smokers. (See Nicotine in Electronic Cigarettes: 10 Facts All Users Should Know.)
However, nowadays regulations force smokers out of the office, and smoking breaks can cut into the working day. E-cigarettes, which delivery nicotine but remain legal indoors, offer a third alternative to both smokers and employers.
We’ve been running a trial with one company, officebroker.com, and asked their marketing manager, Simon Jones, how they were getting on.
Why did you decide to start the experiment?
The experiment was designed as a kind of antidote to smoking breaks more than anything. Everyone is of course entitled to take a certain amount of breaks over a designated time, but as our smokers feel the need to take regular breaks throughout the day, some non-smokers felt this increased amount of time away from the office was a little unfair.
As a reason to be away from the desk, smoking can impact productivity as well as morale. How long before a cigarette are you spending thinking about smoking a cigarette? Do you end up planning your day around regular breaks? With the availability of an e-cigarette that you can smoke as often as you like without having to move, we hoped to turn cigarette breaks into a thing of the past.
How have smokers reacted?
We’ve had mixed reactions from our smokers – the results range all the way across the spectrum! While some felt unnatural smoking an electronic replacement, others really took to the idea of being able to smoke inside. Some felt healthier … and everyone agreed it went some way towards satisfying their cravings.
The best success story is from one of our Account Managers, who quit smoking of any kind. He smoked the e-cigarette for two weeks and forbid himself to have a ‘normal’ cigarette. As he’d been planning to quit anyway, the e-cig ended up serving as a great stepping stone to packing it in altogether.
What gains in productivity do you estimate you have had?
It’s difficult to tell at this early stage exactly how much this experiment has impacted on productivity. But one member of staff has said that he hasn’t had a single cigarette break and really appreciates not having to, and another has claimed that she’s now down from 10 cigarettes a day to just 2. Not all those smoked at work, mind you!
Have there been any other benefits?
In terms of business benefits, it’s just been an all-around success so far. The key benefit will be increased productivity, but other benefits include fairness among smoking and non-smoking staff, improved health and reduced risks, and a better view of the company.
It doesn’t have a huge impact, but there’s something to be said for looking at a working building and seeing a hive of activity behind the windows without seeing a group of people huddled in a corner smoking!
How many smokers say they will continue to use the e-cigarette in place of tobacco cigarettes?
The results have been split exactly 50:50. Half of our smoking staff intend to continue using e-cigarettes instead of or as well as normal cigarettes. However, others are more inclined to go back to their usual, and more familiar, smoking habits. And of course, there’s one employee who won’t be doing either!
Read more on the Office Broker blog here: The Great Office Experiment at Office Broker
Disclaimer: The Ashtray Blog makes no claims that the electronic cigarette can aid smoking cessation, and opinions expressed in the interview are those of officebroker.com. The e-cigarette is not a licensed cessation aid, and there are no long-term trials that show that the e-cigarette can aid smoking cessation.