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Why are employees coffee badging?

At first, coffee badging sounds like a funny little loophole to simply avoid coming into the office full-time. But more often than not, it’s legitimately used for productivity and personal reasons.

Even the CEO of Owl Labs, Frank Weishaupt, participates in coffee badging, according to CNBC. He starts his workday at home, drives to work mid-day to avoid traffic and spends the afternoon in the office.

“[C]offee badging gives you the opportunity to maintain your flexible schedule, which is incredibly important to employees,” he told CNBC.

This is particularly true for parents. A 30-year-old mom told CNBC that she sometimes doesn’t go into the office until around lunchtime and then leaves early to pick her son up from daycare. She often finishes off her work for the day at home while she watches him.

Child care for one kid costs more than $10,000 a year, on average, according to the most recent numbers from Child Care Aware, a national network of child care resources and referral agencies. So this isn’t just a good parenting decision, but a smart financial one if you can swing it.

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Financial benefits of coffee badging

You don’t just save on child care when coffee badging, but on many other expenses as well. In their report, Owl Labs adds that it costs an employee an average of $51 to work from the office — $36 more than working from home.

The company broke down the estimated costs associated with this: parking ($8), breakfast/coffee ($13), lunch ($16), commute ($14). Those numbers don't even include additional pet or child care costs, which in-office employees would have to consider if they were away from home for an extended period each day.

Coffee badging helps cut those expenses in half, which can be a massive financial win for your wallet.

Downsides of coffee badging

However, coffee badging isn’t all good news. It some cases it can be a way to slack on your responsibilities at work and avoid the return-to-work policy.

But the biggest downside to coffee badging is how it could affect your future earnings and work opportunities.

ResumeBuilder.com discovered in a 2023 survey that remote workers are 24% less likely to get a promotion than those who went into the office. The survey adds that even when remote workers got a raise, it was less than those who were hybrid or entirely in-office.

You don’t want to cost yourself future earnings and opportunities just because you dislike coming into the office once or twice a week. Even if you’re showing your face for an hour or two, it may not be enough to move you up the corporate ladder.

If you’re looking to move up at your company, depending on where you work, coffee badging might not be right for you.

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Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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