There are a lot of arguments to be made for companies to embrace work-from-home positions for their employees. Research indicates that remote workers are more productive, but then there's all of the money in overhead that businesses can save by having smaller centralized offices or ditching them altogether. WordPress, one of the world's largest content management systems, has a 100% remote workforce and is doing just fine.
Of course, there are some industries where working from home is impossible. Still, there are a lot of industries that would have a hard time arguing against making a significant portion of its employee-based remote workers.
And while there are definitely a lot of employees who get more work done while working from home, some try and "cheat" the system and take full advantage of not being in the immediate presence of a manager.
Elon Musk for example, announced that all Tesla employees needed to return to offices (unless they have a valid reason for remote work) or they can "pretend to work somewhere else," which embodies a lot of fears some businesses have in giving employees autonomy to work from home.
And it seems like a now-viral TikTok from user @gabrielle_judge embodies that fear.
Some companies keenly observe their employees, even when working from home, to ensure that they're actually "on" during their designated business hours. For example, apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams will denote when someone is actively on their computer, for instance.
Folks have come up with some pretty creative solutions as to ensure it looks like they're on the work computer when they're actually not and it's actually pretty simple: mouse jigglers. There are mouse jiggling applications and there are manual ones that attach to your devices that will move your mouse to make it look like you're active.
Maybe you want to get some chores done around the house while you're supposed to be at your desk. Or maybe you've got a boss who expects you to sit at your computer even though you're done with your work so you're left twiddling your thumbs when you could be working out or getting some errands done. Whatever the reason, this one employee Gabrielle is referring to decided to install a mouse jiggling application, and their boss found out.
"Ok today I found a guy that's about to get fired for having a mouse jiggler on his laptop...OK if you don't know what a mouse jiggler is it's basically like software that you can install on your laptop that makes your mouse jiggle every set interval so that your laptop doesn't fall asleep. This is usually important if you use teams or Slack where it shows that you're available all the time um for work purposes but you're not at your laptop obviously."
She continued, "So this guy's saying he uses caffeine.exe that's the program that he uses to make sure that his mouse jiggles every once in a while um I guess someone from like IT emailed his boss or his boss inquired about it or whatever. He's basically saying that he's getting put on a PIT because of this he goes into like further detail of other things, he said that he's been like missing stand ups because of like 'power issues' and 'internet issues' and his boss is really done with it."
The TikToker went on to say, "The final straw was that he joined a meeting on his phone and his boss immediately asked him to talk afterward with his video on. What are your thoughts? Are these illegal? Should you be fired?"
TikTokers who commented on the post had a litany of differing opinions on the matter. Some immediately said that the employee's first mistake was using a virtual mouse jiggler and cautioned against using such technology on a company computer.
The primary reason being that work machines are wholly managed by the company, and IT staff members are tasked with overseeing all of the applications that are being installed on these computers so to ensure they're running up to company standards. Foreign applications may present security/data breach risks and it's their job to minimize that from happening.
Others said that work computers are closely monitored, but there were those who said that if a job is looking at an employee that closely, this kind of special attention, as unwanted as it is, is most likely rooted in some type of professional issue with said employee. In short: a perception is set and then management is keeping a close eye on someone who may be just getting paid for essentially doing nothing, i.e. not satisfying the terms of their employment.
Many TikTokers referenced the "power" and "internet" issues of the person Gabrielle was talking about as evidence that they probably weren't doing their job as well as they could have and that their boss was probably closely looking at them for constantly coming up with excuses as to why they weren't present for team meetings and online discussions.
Other commenters remarked that the mouse jiggler application was more than likely the "last straw" for the worker's manager, so adding up all of their past issues, with some pretty damning evidence that they were pretending to look like they were online when they're not culminated in disciplinary action.
What do you think? Should the employee have been punished for using the jiggler?