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NextGen Magazine


Remote Workers Find Ways to Circumvent Monitoring Software

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jan 11, 2023

Employers are increasingly employing monitoring software to ensure that their remote employees are remotely working. In response, employees are coming up with inventive ways to fool them, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Two out of three employers overall use some kind of worker surveillance system, the Journal reported, many of them since the start of the pandemic. Others tally badge swipes into the office or make lists of slackers. Some hire consultants to identify less productive employees.

All of this is prompting workers to show their bosses that they are working when they are not.

One home-based marketing employee in Phoenix prevents her computer from falling asleep, and saves her from missing an email from her boss when she’s doing laundry or making dinner, by streaming Sloth TV from a Costa Rican wildlife rescue ranch. The sound of the stream, which runs on a second monitor, keeps her work computer awake so that she can hear notifications.

A Bartsow, Calif.-based management assistant avoided tipping off his co-workers and supervisors that he was away from his desk by wrapping the cord of his computer mouse around a rotating desk fan. That kept the mouse moving so his computer would not shut down after 10 minutes of inactivity.

“I logged on, went to the gym,” he told the Journal.

Even Amazon has seized the opportunity, the Journal reported, selling by selling a device known as a mouse jiggler. “Push the button when you’re getting up from your desk and the cursor travels randomly around the screen—for hours, if needed!” one review read, according to the Journal.

Career coach Sho Dewan said that, early in his career, he used to open a PowerPoint slide on his laptop and click "present." That way, his computer would stay alert even if he wasn't nearby. In a TikTok video he made about this strategy he said, “Just hit ’slideshow,’ and you’re good."

Strategies to appear busy are not just for remote workers.  “A desk covered with papers makes it look like you’re in the middle of 5 things at once,” a Reddit thread cited by the Journal advised.