Industry Insights

What to Know About Coffee Badging

A new ritual has emerged among office workers: coffee badging. This response to return-to-office mandates extends beyond a caffeine fix. By understanding the reasons behind this trend, we can better meet the changing needs of today’s workforce to create a more flexible and positive work environment.

What Is Coffee Badging?

Coffee badging occurs when employees pop into the office for a quick hello and then vanish to work remotely for the day. It’s considered a workaround for mandatory attendance, where workers swipe their badge, exchange a few words, and then leave to work offsite. To summarize, coffee badgers are saying “no thanks” to those return-to-office rules.

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What Causes Coffee Badging?

Coffee badging reflects how workplaces are changing. Many employees now prefer to work remotely, thanks to flexible schedules and advanced technology. Both help to maintain a better work-life balance. As a result, coffee badging has emerged as a compromise that allows employees to fulfill minimal face-to-face requirements while still enjoying the benefits of remote work.

Personal Productivity

Everyone has their ideal working environment. Some thrive in the collaborative atmosphere of the office, while others work best in the quiet of their home office. When companies mandate a return to the office without considering these preferences, employees who excel at remote work may resort to coffee badging to maintain their preferred work environment.

Commute Fatigue

Many people grapple with the physical and mental toll of lengthy commutes. According to the US Census Bureau, the average one-way commute within the United States was 26.4 minutes in 2022. However, those numbers leap to 80 minutes per round trip in some areas like New York City.

While coffee badging doesn’t alleviate commute times, it is a form of protest for having to commute. Also, coffee-badging commuters don’t need to buy lunch or coffee drinks daily, saving around $100 per week.

Health and Safety Concerns

The rise of remote work during the global pandemic was a game-changer, so it’s no surprise that some people still have health concerns.

We’ve all been through those office cold, flu, and COVID seasons. For employees who are immunocompromised or live with someone who is, the thought of working full-time in an office can be pretty nerve-wracking. Dashing into the workplace for a quick check-in is a form of compromise to coffee badgers that limits the number of co-workers they interact with.

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How Can Employers Address Coffee Badging?

Consider a collaborative and open-minded approach when tackling coffee badging in your workplace. Remember, working with your employees to address their concerns is good for company culture.

Transparent Communication

Start by openly discussing company policies and preferences with employees. This dialogue can help uncover why coffee badging is happening. Encourage employees to share feedback on recent or proposed remote work policy changes. Consider offering an anonymous online survey to make it easier for employees to express themselves. 

Also, explain the why. Share the company’s reasoning behind attendance expectations and return-to-work policies. This transparency helps employees understand the company’s decisions impacting remote opportunities. 

Hybrid Schedules

Instead of enforcing rigid rules that employees might try to bypass with coffee badging, consider offering more flexible hybrid work schedules. For many organizations, hybrid schedules are an excellent compromise for employees, offering a balanced approach to remote and in-office work.

Leverage Performance-Based Evaluation

Employers concerned about their employees’ productivity while working from home can tackle this issue by defining clear goals, expectations, and performance metrics for remote work.

Measuring productivity will allow you to track employee performance while fostering trust and autonomy among remote teams. Regular feedback sessions and recognizing employees’ achievements can also motivate your team to maintain high-performance standards.

Support Employee Wellness

Give employees the tools and support they need to show up and do their best work. Employees experiencing burnout may struggle with being physically and emotionally present at work each day, causing presenteeism.

Prioritize employee well-being with resources and wellness programs that support your team’s health and happiness. Consider offering health stipends for gym memberships, workout classes, or employee assistance programs (EAPs) that provide mental health resources.

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There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for coffee badging. Employees have different needs and preferences regarding where they feel most comfortable and productive. Engaging in meaningful communication with employees can create more effective workplace policies that balance the desire for autonomy with the benefits of in-person collaboration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is coffee badging a form of quiet quitting?

Coffee badging and quiet quitting are workplace trends, but they are different. Coffee badging relates to an employee’s in-office attendance and remote work preferences, while quiet quitting concerns their job performance and work output. Coffee badgers may go above and beyond in their tasks, even while skirting in-office attendance expectations.

Are coffee badgers disengaged employees?

Several factors can contribute to coffee badging, and disengagement is one potential cause. Disengaged employees tend to show less interest in work and may possess negative attitudes about their jobs or employers. Coffee badging can result from this disinterest in work or negative outlook on their workplace. Still, other possible causes, such as commute fatigue or a preference for remote work, may not indicate disengagement.


  • Kaylyn McKenna

    Kaylyn McKenna is an experienced writer who specializes in HR and workplace topics, such as employee engagement, workplace policies, recruiting strategy, and DE&I. Her work has been featured on TechRepublic, Business News Daily, and Business Management Daily.

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The article was reviewed by Deirdre Sullivan

Kaylyn McKenna

Kaylyn McKenna is an experienced writer who specializes in HR and workplace topics, such as employee engagement, workplace policies, recruiting strategy, and DE&I. Her work has been featured on TechRepublic, Business News Daily, and Business Management Daily.

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