Coffee Badging: New Battle Brews in the R-T-O Workplace

working people

They call it “Coffee badging”: home-loving hybrid workers' little hack to dodge “Return-to-Work” mandates. Employees go to the office, grab a coffee, swipe their badge, perhaps have a quick chat with coworkers, and then leave, ticking the box for showing up without actually doing much work.

A new workplace trend is brewing, and it might leave a bitter taste in the mouths of employers.

A June survey by video conferencing firm Owl Labs reveals that 58% of the 2,000 hybrid employees polled admit to coffee badging, while an additional 8% of workers say they are curious to try it.

“So-called ‘Coffee badging‘ seems like an attempt by some employees to game the system and get credit for face time without really working,” says Jorey, CEO of Bernstein Investment Consultants. “I understand the resistance to presenteeism, but this could breed distrust between employers and remote staff. It is better to have open conversations about expectations.”

From ‘quiet quitting‘ to ‘office peacocking,' and even ‘lazy girl jobs,' the workplace has run amok with baffling TikTok trends and zeitgeisty buzzwords – do they give us any sense of direction? 

Viewing the work revolution through the lens of personal finance opens up new pathways for employees to navigate their way through their evolving career matrix. By considering expert input and prioritizing their goals, employees may start living into their professional future today and work towards greater prosperity over the long term.

Remote Edge?

With the pandemic in the rearview mirror, the pathway forward for remote work is increasingly uncertain.

Yet, there can be some financial perks for staying remotely. Remote workers earn, on average, $8,553 (or 9.7% more) a year than their in-office counterparts. Not only that, they save on other miscellaneous costs. Many professionals try to maintain an affordable business casual wardrobe. Yet by swapping suits for sweatpants – remote workers save on office attire. Their morning ‘commute' from the bedroom to the home office is also free.  

However, today's pay premium may cost tomorrow's promotion. Less face-time with managers and leadership teams could mean fewer options to level up, creating a so-called “Zoom ceiling.” This is an outgrowth of proximity bias – a tendency for decision-makers to favor those they are more frequently in physical contact with. 

The risk-reward ratio can be nuanced. 

“Working remotely can be financially savvy regarding direct cost savings on commuting and professional attire,” says Bernstein. “However, the potential lack of in-person mentoring and networking could limit long-term career growth. It's a trade-off remote workers need to weigh carefully.”


Remote is not so rosy from the managerial end. According to Owl Labs' State of Hybrid Work 2023, 68% of managers say their hybrid and/or remote staff are missing out on impromptu or informal feedback.

“More feedback” is hardly what most workers live for. More pay? Now they're listening. 

Managers may need to use more carrots and less stick to entice their staff back to their stations. Owl Labs' also found that 29% of hybrid or remote workers expect a pay increase if their company wants them to return to the office. 

After tugging back and forth earlier this year, employers and employees are calling a truce in the “Return-to-Office” war and settling for hybrid solutions. This home-office mix will particularly suit professionals who rely on the in-person touch to build rapport with colleagues and clients. It may also work for many easy, well-paid jobs.

“As a financial advisor, I think a hybrid remote/in-office schedule works well,” says Bernstein. “Meeting with clients virtually can be efficient, but nothing builds rapport like in-person visits. Collaborating with colleagues is easier when we overlap in the office part of the week.”

The workplace has gone through dramatic turbulence and upended long-held expectations. Yet the shake-up has undoubtedly brought about positive change. These unprecedented disruptions is certainly producing a happier workforce.

According to The Conference Board Job Satisfaction survey, American workers have never been so content. Satisfaction levels among employees reached their highest point ever since the Conference Board began its annual survey in 1987. 

“The workplace is undoubtedly evolving,” says Bernstein. “Managers need to focus less on physical presence and more on results. And employees need to take ownership of their careers rather than gaming the system. Flexibility and communication on both sides will be essential.”

The remote work revolution has changed everything. Everyone must consider how it would change their professional futures, no matter what stage of their career, whether a C-suite executive or a new grad browsing new openings on Craigslist alternatives. By prioritizing a blend of financial and professional goals, employees can make the most of the new hybrid norm. 

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks

Author: Liam Gibson


Liam is an experienced journalist in Taiwan who has been covering politics, economics and finance professionally for almost five years. His writing has appeared in many leading publications in both the U.S., Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere. He currently works as a finance writer for Wealth of Geeks. He formerly ran the Substack newsletter and podcast, Policy People