For both companies and professionals, the "back to work" movement has had it's ups and downs. Many companies are realising that professional culture was permanently changed by the combination of cloud-based workflows and an entire year of mandatory remote work.
After crashing through adoption hurdles that once held the workplace culture in place, professionals realised that they are often more productive and comfortable working at home. Not to mention eliminating the expense in time and money associated with the commute. Fuel, meals, childcare, and eldercare have all made "returning to the status quo" a mountainous challenge for office-based industries.
One method that employers are trying is mandatory days in the office, but this has been met with understandable resistance: A trend known as coffee badging .
What is the CoffeeBadging Trend?
"CoffeeBadging" is when employees commute to the office, have a cup of coffee with coworkers, and then leave to work at home. This has been seen as earning the coffeebadge, putting in an official appearance without bothering to conduct a full day of work in the office. Employees may attend the morning meeting, and then head home. They aren't clocking out. Rather, professionals are choosing to finish their workday in home offices.
This has been the response to many employer's attendance requirements, especially when management only checks in first thing in the morning, but otherwise requests the productivity of normal daily workflow. The result is a coffee meeting in the morning, then the workflow that has become normal for many office teams: at home.
Why CoffeeBadging is Increasingly Popular
Coffeebadging is not a random act of rebellion; it is a practical choice for thousands of professionals who are making an appearance before heading back to their respective home offices each in-office day.
Many people work more efficiently in their home office, which is personally configured for their needs, and is also less distracting than a shared workspace. Everyone can work more comfortably, which is even more important for those with medical conditions and disabilities. Professionals also cannot shrug off their obligations, such as childcare or eldercare, just because it's an 'in-office' day on their hybrid schedules.
In addition, many workflows remain exactly the same with video meetings, phone calls, and working on cloud-based documents such that being in the office offers only downsides without advantages during daily tasks.
Combining these factors, it is worth it for coffee-badging employees to make a round-trip commute in the morning, and then dive back into their productive at-home work routines. As long as their work is done on time, coffee-badging is seen as a commute-heavy meeting rather than any kind of misbehavior.
What CoffeeBadging Means In Your Company
Have you seen coffeebadging in your company? This is a symptom of an incomplete return-to-work initiative. Sure, your people show up. But do they have any reason to stay? Have you created a situation where employees are more productive, comfortable, and responsible by returning home after a mandatory appearance?
In fact, coffeebadging is often a sign that mandatory at-work days are arbitrarily assigned with little to no attendance benefit for the company or employees. If you see coffeebadging, but work is being turned in at the correct pace, it's time to rethink your return-to-work strategy.
Sharing a workplace can be very beneficial for hybrid teams, but only if the in-office workflow is unique and focuses on those tasks that benefit from in-person and hands-on engagement.
How to Stop CoffeeBadging with Smart Scheduling
The key to eliminating coffeebadging is not to serve bad coffee. It's all in the scheduling. Each day in the office should offer your employees something uniquely valuable that they cannot achieve when working at home. This requires intentional scheduling of in-office days. Arbitrary in-office days are at the heart of the coffee-badging trend.
Instead, create in-office days that boost productivity, teamwork, and engagement:
1. Respect Your Employee's Time
First and foremost, consider your employee's time and the cost of commuting. You're not just asking employees to show up; you're asking them to spend on fuel, take one to three hours from their day to commute, to pay for childcare, and to cover meals away from home. While this cost used to be a given, we now have a better perspective on what a big ask this really is.
Don't just bring your employees into the office. Respect their time. Bring them in for a reason.
2. Don't Mirror Remote Workflows
Make sure that the day your employees are expected to have in the office are not identical to the day they would have at home, but in a less comfortable chair. The reason remote work was so successful is that many jobs can be (and now are) done with virtual meetings, cloud documents, and digital messaging. If that's all you want from employees, sharing lunch in the breakroom is not reason enough to commute and stay.
3. Optimise Your Employees' Time During In-Office Days
What are your employees doing during in-office days? If you don't know or haven't cared, then you're planning in-office days for the wrong reasons. Because you value your employees' time, make sure it is optimised while they are in the workplace. Focus on productivity, team efforts, and good reasons for in-office days to occur when they do.
4. Plan a Full Day of Productive In-Person Activities
One of the best ways to completely overcome coffeebadging is to make sure each in-office day has a full itinerary of things that can only be done in-person. Not just the morning meeting. Schedule your team time with the product prototype. Plan team brainstorming, drafting, or building sessions where coworkers truly benefit from collaborating in-person with their teams.
Hold important client meetings, training sessions, or site inspections on in-office days. Make sure the schedule of valuable in-person activities covers the full span of the workday, with breaks of course, so that employees have good reasons to stay through the entire day.
5. Serve a Catered Lunch
A catered lunch trades the cost of eating away from home for culinary delight. Provide high-quality sandwiches, bento boxes, or catering platters from local restaurants rather than asking employees to cover their own lunch on in-office days. Serve breakfast and lunch if you're an early crowd or lunch and dinner of your team is on a later shift.
It's a simple fact that many people are food-motivated, and the opportunity to enjoy a catered menu -can turn the impulse of coffeebadging into a reason to stay, snack, and work together on-site.
6. Make the Workplace a Rewarding Place to Be
Speaking of incentives, make sure your workplace is a welcoming and rewarding place to be. No one is going to stay for a shabby desk pool or the ol' cube farm. These are the icons of uncomfortable, crowded, working life that many people have been glad to leave behind. Invest in aesthetics and bring in just a few teams at a time to make the space more appealing for fewer people.
Consider elements of beauty, light quality, and comfortable ergonomic furniture. You may offer a well-stocked break room, high-quality workspaces, and collaboration rooms, or an office gym. These elements give your employees something to look forward to when they come into the office, and reasons why in-office days might even be better than days working at home.
7. Compensate Employees for Commuting Costs
The cost of commuting used to be considered a "given" part of working. However, times and fuel prices have changed. The fuel cost alone can cost employees hundreds of dollars a month when commuting frequently. Commuting also typically takes between 30 - 90 minutes, one way. This steals time, adds stress, and costs money.
The trend of coffeebadging accepts the cost of commuting, but compensating the commute can also make staying for the workday seem more worthwhile.
8. Prioritise Productivity Over Attendance
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, be sure to prioritise productivity over attendance. Don't ask your employees to come into the office at the expense of productivity unless you have other forms of productivity in mind. This is why it's important to schedule collaboration activities, live training, and other tasks where in-person attendance provides tangible value to the company and team.
This will show your team that in-office days are important, and they will stay through in order to gain the benefits of your live and collaborative itineraries.