• External Contributor

This company pays employees to stay in bed

The workplace changed significantly in 2020 in a huge, widespread way. But the pandemic isn’t the only thing behind evolving workplace culture and processes. Millennials and Gen Zers are starting businesses, moving into managerial roles, and are now in charge of recruitment and hiring, and are changing the way work is set up.

It could be the time of year or just a coincidence, but multiple people in my circles have changed jobs in the past couple weeks, or are looking to in the coming month. I’ve had conversations with multiple people about work flexibility, working from home, part time work, and the like. Multiple Millennials I know have spoken openly about a reluctance to pursue full time work, favouring better work-life balance and lower stress levels over the extra cash.

Grace Beverley, who is 23 years old and the CEO and founder of two companies, recently spoke about her company policies on ‘duvet days’. Duvet days, also known as ‘CBF days’ in other companies, are a variation on a personal leave day for when staff just CBF (can’t be fucked, or cannot be bothered, if you prefer) going to work. Beverley's employees have a certain number of paid CBF days each year.

We all know the feeling. Your alarm goes off, you didn’t sleep well or stayed up too late in a TikTok hole. You open one eye, and for one glorious moment, you think it’s Sunday. But alas, it is WEDNESDAY. Disgusting. You roll out of bed and get a glimpse of your puffy self in the mirror. You know coffee won’t revive you. You want to get back in bed. You want to pick up where you left off on TikTok the night before. You want to do anything that doesn’t involve going to work, even though you technically could go. You’re not really sick. You just CBF.

If any angry Boomers are reading, this is where they’re shaking their head in annoyance and disbelief. “What a lazy generation!” They will exclaim to whoever is around. “I’ve always said the kids of today just don’t have a good work ethic!” But the thing is, people already have CBF days. They just take them as sick days. Or they traipse into the office and do the absolute minimum to get through the day. Introducing CBF days is just removing the need to lie.

Younger Millennials and Zoomers are openly rejecting the norm when it comes to the workplace. We’re seeking jobs that have flexible work options and work from home days. We’re prioritising company culture over preferred industry or title. Our parents and bosses are telling us we’re too picky and need to get on with it, but to many of us, a lower salary is worth a nine day fortnight, shorter days, or the option to work from home.

And we’re not just complaining on the internet, we’re building those companies. The trope of startup tech companies with pool tables and beanbags is a bit of a meme at this point, but it does reflect the changing landscape of work. We don’t want cubicles and concrete schedules. We want flexibility that’s not dependent on children or conflicting commitments, and instead is an option for everyone.

We’re told we’re lazy by older generations who worked 9-5 in the same company for 40 years. But they’re kidding themselves if they say they’ve never taken a sickie to spend with friends or family, or just hang out on the couch. Executives in some industries are known for long lunches and knocking off early on a Friday. Young workers aren’t doing anything new, we just don’t want to sneak around and keep it secret.

Flexible work arrangements have resulted in an increase in productivity according to multiple studies, and others have found that positive company culture results in higher productivity. A quick Google will show you that many experts label Millennials the most productive generation (probably due to our obsession with hustle culture). Simply put, we’ve mastered how to fit more work into less time. We don’t need to be on the clock for eight hours a day, because we can do the work in half the time (or less).

Personally, having the trust of my employer leads to increased productivity. Having a manager who is constantly checking in, looking over my shoulder, or requesting updates leads me to be less productive and less likely to work proactively. Constant helicoptering and micro-management from those in charge isn’t the way to boost creativity and productivity.

It may seem like a small and pretty nonconsequential thing, but CBF days mean a lot to staff. It’s an acknowledgement from management that sometimes you’re not in the right mood or headspace, and on those days you simply won’t produce your best work. Instead of dragging yourself to your office or computer, taking a day off will increase the likelihood of coming back to work the following day refreshed and ready to go.

If workplaces want to keep staff around, particularly when it comes to young workers, they must adapt, open two-way communication channels, and understand that some days you just CBF.