If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that working from home is not only doable, but if given the proper support, it can be more effective. Although there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that working from home has a number of benefits for employees, including increased productivity and decreased stress levels, many employers don’t agree.
Since it’s the employers that hold all the power—including the right to terminate—many of us have been forced back to the office, where we’re expected to sit in a cubicle, doing the work that could just as easily be done at home. If you hadn’t already learned that it’s less about the actual work you do, and more about the process of being seen as working by your boss, this should drive the lesson home.
What is “coffee badging”?
One survival strategy for returning to the office (while holding on your sanity) is a strategy known as “coffee badging”—coming into the office for part of the day, with the intention of seeing and being seen by the boss, only to finish up work at home. This often includes coming in a little late, to avoid the morning traffic, catching up with colleagues over coffee or lunch and talking through work-related challenges face to face, then heading home early.
According to Owl Labs, 58 percent of hybrid workers report “coffee badging.” As far as survival strategies go, it’s a good one, as it helps lessen the burden a little, by cutting down on the stress of commuting during rush hour, while also preserving some of the better parts about going into the office, such as talking it out face to face with colleagues. If going into the office is an optics game, you might as well be strategic about it, which coffee badging can help with.
Make sure it’s worth the risks
As with so many other aspects of working life, coffee badging comes with its own politics and its own risks, which can vary depending on who’s engaging in it. For coffee badging to be a successful return-to-office strategy, it does require being in a company that allows for more flexibility in terms of when you are required to be in the office, and when it’s okay to finish up work at home. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, some companies are monitoring the exact number of hours workers spend in the office; if this is the kind of culture you’re working in, coffee badging won’t be an acceptable option.
Even if the policies are flexible, there are also some additional risks that come with coffee badging. As a series of studies on remote workers showed, women who stepped away during the workday were more likely to be noticed and their absence to be assumed to be due to personal reasons, whereas men were less likely to be noticed, and their absence assumed to be due to work commitments. It’s not right, it certainly isn’t fair, but it is the reality of work as we currently know it.
It’s probably safe to assume that coffee badging can come with a similar risk of discrimination, with women being judged more harshly for showing up late and leaving early than men. With that being said, sometimes you just need to do what you need to do in order to stay sane, whether it’s putting in an appearance at the office, or advocating for a fully remote position, with the knowledge that sometimes, work culture really does suck.
Lead Image Credit: iStock
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