Tap in, drink a coffee, tap out. Sound like the ideal day at the office? Well, plenty of people are doing exactly this—but employers aren’t too happy about it. ‘Coffee badging’, a term coined by Owl Labs, describes the new trend of office workers showing up to work to physically meet their attendance quota, staying for the length of a coffee, catch-up or meeting, then heading home right after.

Why are so many people ‘coffee badging’?

After the pandemic, many employers wanted to get their staff back into the office, some going as far as to implement mandatory office days that were tracked by swipe cards. While the new trend of coffee badging undoubtedly has a connection to the popularity of remote work, it’s largely down to rising resentments around a lack of freedom and trust.

With so many companies offering either fully remote or hybrid working options for employees, it’s understandable that individuals might come to resent companies that don’t offer the same freedoms.

Surveillance and scaremongering - why it doesn’t work

At first glance, mandatory office time bolstered by surveillance might seem like a good way to get butts back in office chairs. But research has shown that a staggering 77% of workers are more likely to leave a company if they’re not offered some level of freedom to choose where they work.

Scaring your workers into returning to the office won’t end up boosting productivity. Rather, the stats show that workers who feel pressured and surveilled will simply find somewhere else to work.

So, what’s the solution?

If you want your employees in the office at least some of the time, the best thing you can do to avoid coffee badging is to make in-office time useful, productive and sociable. People are far more likely to feel frustrated if they come into the office to do exactly what they could at home. Actively schedule meetings, guest speakers, treats and perks for those days when you require people’s attendance. And perhaps try to encourage your staff to come in on specific days, so that they’re not surrounded by empty desks.

Of course, you could always trust your employees to choose for themselves whether office or remote work works best for them. Not all humans are built the same, and some people simply prefer - whether for mental, physical or personal differences - to work from home. And do a better job because of it.

At the end of the day, as long as employees are performing well and are happy in their roles, what does it matter if they are at home, in an office, or in a co-working space? Surely anything is better than resentfully beeping in for the sake of it.

At Remotify, we believe that the best workplaces are flexible workplaces. Our Employer of Record service makes transitioning to remote teams simple, seamless and effective. Want to find out more about how we do it? Book a call with a member of our friendly team today.

Some of the world’s most powerful tech giants are losing senior talent by forcing them to return to the office, according to new research by the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago. The study, which analyzed 260 million resumes, found that senior team members are far more likely to leave a position if a return to the office is made mandatory.

Which tech giants have seen the biggest drops?

Microsoft’s senior staff dropped by over 5% after implementing a return to office (RTO) plan. Similarly, Apple experienced a 4% exodus after mandating a minimum of one day in the office per week. But the most shocking drop can be seen at SpaceX where, after insisting senior team members spend all five days in the office, the company saw a whopping 15% plunge in personnel. The findings appear to show a correlation between days spent in the office and the number of departures—the more time required in the office, the more likely people are to leave.

A need for flexibility

Interestingly, a different piece of research by Morning Consult, which consulted 6,625 adults in the USA, found that worker attitudes towards hybrid work are becoming increasingly positive, with 29% saying they preferred a hybrid work model in 2024, up from 25% the previous year.

What this tells us (global tech giants take note!) is that a level of flexibility is required in order to retain talent—whether that’s senior team members or entry-level new starters. As SpaceX found out, by setting rigid rules around office days, there will inevitably be people who simply jump ship, rather than struggle with an arrangement that doesn’t work for them.

Similarly, given that hybrid work is proving even more popular than fully remote work, companies would do well to trust their employees to come to the office when they can. Every employee is different. They have different personal lives, different physical and mental requirements, and different barriers to working from a singular place. The best and most popular employers will be the ones that take these differences into consideration when thinking about time spent at work, versus time spent elsewhere.

For anyone worried about losing top talent, the best antidote may be trusting your employees to do what they feel is right for them.

At Remotify, we believe that the best workplaces are flexible workplaces. We’ve helped countless companies transition from mandatory office hours to a more flexible approach, handling the complex details on your behalf. Want to find out more about how we do it? Book a call with a member of our friendly team today.