Move aside ‘quiet quitters,’ post-Covid employers now must deal with ‘coffee badging’

Lingering opposition to in-person work gave birth a new “disrespectful” and “insubordinate” hybrid work habit: coffee badging.

So many facets of society have seen the lowering of standards that eyeing loopholes and employing hacks to achieve the bare minimum have become commonplace. In the workforce, a generation of “quiet quitters” and “lazy job” seekers pushing back on the 40-hour work week and those striving to get ahead have been joined by those making appearances at the office before returning to their remote routine.

“Coffee badging is when employees show up to the office for enough time to have a cup of coffee, show their face and get a ‘badge swipe’ — then go home to do the rest of their work,” Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs, a Boston-based video conference device company, told Fox Business.

“Our 2023 State of Hybrid Work report found that only about 1 in 5 workers (22%) want to be in the office full time, with 37% wanting hybrid work options and 41% preferring to be fully remote,” he explained, indicating that those “coffee badging” amounted to 58% of hybrid employees.

Added to that majority, another 8% said they hadn’t, but were interested in trying the practice that HR consulting firm Insperity’s managing director of client implementation Niki Jorgensen warned could seem “disrespectful or even insubordinate.”

“Coffee badging is simply the latest example of the challenges businesses are facing with transitioning employees back to the office after the pandemic,” she suggested to Fox Business.

Weishaupt remarked, “If a coffee badger doesn’t have any in-person meetings or a desk near the boss, the person might not be missed.”

“Our data shows that about two-thirds of managers (64%) have ‘coffee badged’ themselves, with another 6% who want to try it,” he continued. “Less than a third of managers (30%) want to go to the office for the full day.”

The controversial habit joined other trends like social media influencers pushing “lazy girl jobs” out of a supposed rejection of “toxic corporate workplace expectations.”

Despite concern over how the practice could be perceived, Jorgensen contended, “There is no need to panic over coffee badging. Yet if a business finds most of its employees are coffee badging, that could reflect the need to reevaluate their organization’s culture and work-from-home policies.”

As she argued, “in many cases, employees are coffee badging because they want to improve their work-life balance.”

For those seeking to curb the practice in congenial ways to employees that differed from billionaire Elon Musk‘s approach to ending remote work by requiring employees show up or lose their jobs, Jorgensen recommended businesses explore strategies that included flexible hours, orchestrated reasons for staff to socialize and open communications the voice issues with the status quo.

“To combat it, invite employees to speak up about their experience in the workplace and share solutions to help them balance their work and personal lives more easily,” she added, acknowledging that, when left unchecked, coffee badging ” can undermine relationship-building and reduce collaboration.”

“Where there is unrest,” noted Burnout Management, LLC founder Emily Ballesteros in promoting schedules that meet employees somewhere in the middle, “there is usually a need to be met.”

Kevin Haggerty

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