Are you a coffee-badging boomerang employee? Workplace trends for 2024

It's another year of disruption for the corporate world as the likes of resenteeism, office peacocking and rage applying continue to be embraced by employees worldwide

Younger workers are influencing work trends as they demand more autonomy, control and flexibility in their jobs. Kobu Agency / Unsplash
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Remember the viral trends of quiet quitting, the Great Resignation and Bare Minimum Mondays?

Those buzzwords were coined after the Covid-19 pandemic transformed workplace trends, when millions of people worldwide realised there was no longer any need to glorify working long hours and “hustle culture”.

Millennial and Generation Z employees drove the popular trends as they sought a better work-life balance and pushed back against the traditional concept of a work environment.

“These new trends are now most commonly seen among younger workers who are demanding more autonomy, control and flexibility, aside from more pay and better benefits,” according to Esther Cohen, director of marketing at Workamajig, a project management software provider that has compiled a list of the most popular work trends on TikTok last year.

The world of work is changing fast. By 2027, businesses predict that 44 per cent of workers’ core skills will be disrupted, the World Economic Forum said in its Future of Jobs report last year.

Artificial intelligence is widely reported to be a key disrupter, but other factors, including the green transition and geoeconomic conditions, will also see “churn” for almost a quarter of jobs by 2027, the report added.

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Candid portrait of Arab businesswoman holding digital tablet at desk. Photo: Getty Images

Gen Z currently accounts for about two billion of the world’s population and is expected to represent 27 per cent of the workforce in OECD countries by 2025, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

“Gen Z employees are really important to us because they are the future of our company,” says Sally Henderson, group head of talent at Zurich Insurance Group.

“But you need to understand and meet their expectations, which differ from other generations', and provide purposeful employee experiences, development and future careers. Do this, and you can attract amazing talent with new skills, innovative ideas and diverse perspectives.”

Here, we look at the top 15 workplace trends that are likely to take hold this year.

1. Four-day week

The four-day work week will go from being radical to routine in 2024, Gartner’s Future of Work Trends report predicts.

A talent shortage is making it more difficult to attract and retain employees, and organisations are evaluating whether shifting towards a condensed work week will meet growing employee expectations for flexibility, according to Gartner’s research.

In fact, 63 per cent of candidates polled for the report rated the four-day week as the top innovative offering that would attract them to a job.

“Employers are mandating remote employees return to the office, but after years at home, these employees now have a sharper awareness of what coming into the office costs – in terms of time and money,” Gartner says.

“Without a resolution regarding who will bear the cost of work and why, return to office will remain contentious.”

Outlining its top 10 work trends for 2024, professional services network LinkedIn forecasts that employers and employees will agree a hybrid work schedule.

2. Skills overtake degrees

University degrees were the top requirement listed in past job descriptions, the Gartner report says.

However, in response to the tight labour market and declining graduation rates, organisations are shredding the “paper ceiling” and welcoming workers with alternative credentials, it adds.

Previously atypical career paths are also going mainstream, including rising retirement ages, mid-career breaks, shifts across industries and contingent (freelance or contract) work and other non-traditional employment models, according to Gartner.

3. Digital jobs continue to grow

By 2030, the number of global digital jobs is expected to rise to around 92 million, the WEF report estimates. These are generally higher-paid roles.

Digital jobs could help to balance skill shortages in higher-income countries, while boosting opportunities for younger workers in lower-income countries, the agency says.

4. More pop-up offices

LinkedIn recorded a drop in the number of fully remote job postings, down from a peak of 20 per cent in April 2022 to just 8 per cent in December 2023.

But employees' interest in accepting remote or hybrid jobs remains high, at about 46 per cent of job applications, the data shows.

Some countries are introducing pop-up offices for workers in response to the demand for hybrid roles.

For instance, some villages in Austria are paying for pop-up community office spaces because people don’t want to work from home and want to make use of other amenities close by, the World Economic Forum quoted Martin Kocher, Austria's Federal Minister of Labour and Economy, as saying.

Mr Kocher predicted the development of more pop-up office spaces away from company headquarters.

5. Resenteeism

This refers to the practice of employees staying in jobs where they're unhappy because they can't afford to quit, according to Workamajig.

Resenteeism is common when the employment market is uncertain and workers worry that they won't have job prospects elsewhere if they jump ship.

The word is a play on another workplace term, “presenteeism”, which refers to showing up to work for optics but not being fully productive.

Trends like resenteeism have emerged as a response to the “hustle culture”, which glorified overworking, says Ms Cohen.

In addition to a negative attitude and general lack of enthusiasm, more concrete signs of resenteeism include low productivity, showing up late or signing out early, missing days and performance issues.

Resentment grows from feeling undervalued or unappreciated. Poor management and inadequate pay and benefits can also contribute.

6. Coffee badging

This refers to the act of employees going into an office building for morning coffee, earning an “imaginary badge” for it and then going home to work for the remainder of the day, Workamajig says.

A survey last year by video conference device maker Owl Lab showed that 58 per cent of nearly 2,000 employees on a hybrid work model admitted to coffee badging.

7. Office peacocking

This is a deliberate makeover of offices to transform them into inviting spaces that are similar to the comforts of home.

Think swanky sofas, cosy corners, natural light and greenery transforming cubicles into vibrant settings.

In their bid to get employees to return to in-person work, employers are going to great lengths to make their offices look more like home.

8. Quiet quitting

Quiet quitting means just doing what's expected of you. It refers to the practice of establishing boundaries in the workplace.

This involves not working beyond designated operating hours, focusing on completing only essential tasks during work hours, and rejecting the pressures of the hustle culture.

Quiet quitting first gained traction in late 2022 after Bryan Creely, a corporate recruiter-turned-career coach, used it in a TikTok video to explain why people choose to “coast” at their jobs instead of resigning.


More people are “quiet quitting” instead of leaving. quitmyjob corporate corporatelife job jobburnout greatresignation career workthisway

♬ original sound - Bryan Creely - Career Coach

9. Quiet firing

Quiet firing refers to employers pushing out workers without actually firing them and having to pay severance.

It involves making changes that make work unpleasant for employees in order to get them to quit on their own.

Examples are excluding employees from meetings, overlooking them for promotion, putting them on performance improvement plans, or removing perks or flexibility in work hours or location.

Nearly a third of US managers polled by employer review platform JobSage in 2022 admitted that they had quiet fired an employee, using tactics like reduced workload, no promotions and no raises.

10. Quiet hiring

This is the practice of employers filling gaps in the workplace without actually hiring new people.

It is often done by assigning additional tasks or responsibilities to existing employees without increasing their compensation.

It can also refer to moving workers into different roles within a company.

Eight out of 10 staff have been “quiet hired”, according to a survey of workers by employment website Monster in 2023. However, 63 per cent of workers view quiet hiring as an opportunity to learn new skills, the poll found.

“This is a really good chance for employees to sit down and say to their managers, their HR people, and to the company as a whole: ‘I'm willing to do this. Let's talk about what this means for my career,’ ” says Emily Rose McRae, senior director and analyst at Gartner.

Employers are mandating remote employees return to the office, but after years at home, these employees now have a sharper awareness of what coming into the office costs – in terms of time and money

11. Rage applying

This refers to employees applying aggressively for many jobs after feeling fed up or overlooked in their current roles.

They may be motivated to rage apply if they are overlooked for a promotion at work, feel underpaid or underappreciated, or are getting frustrated with their working environments.

A survey of 1,211 Singapore workers by job hiring portal found that 14 per cent of employees are more likely to engage in rage applying this year, double the 7 per cent figure in 2023.

12. Shift shock

Also called new hire's remorse, this term refers to the feeling of regret or unhappiness a new employee might feel when a job is different from what they were led to believe during the hiring process.

It can often lead workers to job hop after a short time or go back to their old employer.

About 72 per cent of 2,500 employees polled by US careers site The Muse said they had experienced “shift shock” in 2022.

Four in 10 employees said they would give a new job two to six months if they felt shift shock, while nearly half (48 per cent) would try to get their old job back if they felt it at a new company, the poll found.

13. Boomerang employee

Those who leave an employer only to come back later are called boomerang employees.

They may return to their old workplaces for a number of reasons. They might feel shift shock in their new roles or they may boomerang to get a pay rise.

Nearly 20 per cent of workers who quit their jobs during the pandemic have since returned to their old employer, according to a 2022 survey of 4,000 people in France, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, the US and the UK by UKG, an HR, payroll and workforce management provider.

14. Career cushioning

Career cushioning involves protecting oneself from the pain of unexpected job loss.

Employees who cushion their careers usually have opportunities on the back burner if they were to lose their current job, either through upskilling, updating their LinkedIn profile and resume, networking, or actively applying for new jobs.

15. Bare minimum Mondays

It refers to easing into the work week with a relaxed approach to minimise stress levels.

Marisa Jo Mayes, a self-employed digital creator and start-up founder, coined the Bare Minimum Mondays trend on TikTok in 2022 – and it is another trend that is set to continue this year.

Updated: February 15, 2024, 1:05 PM