Coffee Badging is the New Quiet Quitting


By Molly Wood, SPHR, MAOL Senior HR Consultant.

If you haven’t heard the term “coffee badging” yet, you probably will. The term describes behaviors of employees who check in to work, stay long enough to be seen (maybe getting a cup of coffee) and then cut out of the office as soon as possible.

This behavior is reported as an act of defiance by employees who are not happy with return to the office policies mandated by their employers. Company counter-moves have included employee monitoring software, time tracking software, GPS tracking, and in some cases installation of video surveillance.

These practices can be expensive, both in the initial technology investment and in the time taken to monitor the data. So rather than resorting to Big Brother tactics, here are some alternative actions to ensure productivity.

  • Know what a job well done looks like. Let’s face it, staff members can shop online for Taylor Swift friendship bracelets in preparation for the Eras Concert Tour movie just as easily from the office as they can remotely. And nobody spends every second of their eight-hour workday doing productive work. Leaders need to assess what accomplishments are expected and hold employees accountable for those results.
  • Objectively consider the need for a return to office policy. There are some jobs or tasks that can only be done from the workplace – but what are those tasks? If there is a concern about confidentiality, security, or physical presence to serve customers, then those are legitimate business reasons to require employees to be onsite. If those same employees worked from home effectively during COVID and it’s just now that telecommuting isn’t acceptable, that is a hard argument to make.
  • Communicate with staff about the business reasons for getting together in person. And be open to their reasons for why it may not be as important. If collaboration and productivity are your reasons, understand that most workers are able to collaborate using technology and office chit-chat is often a distraction from getting the work done.

Ultimately, the best employment relationships are based on respect and trust. If you manage your staff with confidence that they will do their jobs effectively and efficiently, and promptly address performance issues, there is no need to monitor their every move.

SDEA can help leaders to prepare for conversations around acceptable work output. Call us whenever you need us. 858-505-0024.

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