The 2023 office space for CFOs, leadership, and the labor force has largely been defined by the issue of trust. Companies have increasingly invited — and then requested — staff to return to office (RTO) on at least a limited basis where in-person appearances aren’t absolutely essential (e.g. restaurants, manufacturing, etc).
In fact, there are a number of lessons CFOs can absorb and practice to build this trust. Finance chief Steve McNally recently wrote for CFO:
“During my career at a Fortune 500 consumer goods company, we were instructed in the company’s leadership model and were accountable to live those core values beginning Day One. To inspire trust, you must “walk the walk,” ensuring your actions reflect the expectations and behaviors expected of the broader organization.”
Yet a recent term has begun to crop up — “coffee badging” — which refers to “when workers go into the office quickly, to socialize with co-workers or grab a coffee, before leaving again.” In other words, it is the new term for the old idea of putting in face time with the boss to at least offer a showing of company investment. Hybrid employees are admitting to doing it, and it is curious as to whether this might matter to management.
One thing is probably true — if the boss isn’t actually in the office at all, then employees’ desired effect is wasted, and opposite impressions will begin to form. And, according to a recent study, nearly one in four workers (23%) who have experienced an RTO mandate state their respective boss is not in the office as frequently as they are.
The survey, conducted by Resume Builder, was conducted in September and sought responses from 800 full-time office workers who are either in-person or hybrid.
And yet, when those surveyed were asked if having their boss in the office at the same time actually helps productivity, 87% said that there is no difference or it actually makes things worse. These data points slice two ways; employees don’t like being forced into the office, and they don’t like the hypocrisy of such mandates when the mandators themselves act as if above the rule.
McNally writes: “The first step in building trust is building relationships,” but it also means, “Inspiring trust means ‘the buck stops here.’ You are accountable for your and your team’s decisions and actions.”