update: I got in trouble for using a mouse jiggler … despite my excellent work

Remember the letter-writer who got in trouble for using a mouse jiggler despite their excellent work? Here’s the update.

Thank you so much for your response! It was helpful and validating and gave me some additional perspective to process what happened.

I thought I’d send you an update. Not long after I sent in the question, while you were on your December vacation, I started job-hunting. One of the jobs I applied for was especially intriguing, and I was offered that position (after using your resume and interview tips during the application and interview process!).

What a blessing in disguise. I started at the new position making $10k more, have better benefits, and best of all, I don’t feel paranoid or mistrusted. I have a lot of autonomy to bring my strengths and skill set to the work I’m doing and am working with a fantastic team.

To answer some issues that were raised in the comments:

– I got the mouse mover because I knew of some other monitoring my company engaged in that seemed excessive (a former manager of mine got reprimanded for having her personal email open on her computer all day while she worked so that she could respond to a time-sensitive family matter because she had “spent all day on non-work-related websites”).

– I understand and concede that there was a security risk involved in using a mouse mover, but I was not working with sensitive data or PPI.

– My mouse mover was not plugged into my computer, nor was it software I installed. It still got detected. Just a note for other folks!

– My job involved long-haul complex projects, not being constantly present for calls or other duties. No work got shoved off on teammates due to my work timing/habits and I never had complaints or questions about my availability to coworkers or outside parties.

It’s nice to have that situation in the rearview mirror and know that I’m not willing to work for an employer that engages in similar tactics in the future.

{ 202 comments… read them below }

  1. Lydia*

    Congratulations on the new job, OP! You already know this, but based on everything you said, this was a them problem, not a you problem. It really does help when you can confirm your suspicions and move on!

    And thank you for addressing some of the fanfic in the comments. It really does help to remind us that we need to believe what the letter writers tell us.

    1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      A culture of distrust leads to all kinds of bad consequences. Congratulations, OP, on extracting yourself from that web of negativity.

      1. Goldenrod*

        “A culture of distrust leads to all kinds of bad consequences.”

        Agreed, x 1000!! I hate the idea of monitoring people in this way. It’s stupid, and I have no patience for it!

        “What a blessing in disguise. I started at the new position making $10k more, have better benefits, and best of all, I don’t feel paranoid or mistrusted.”

        YEAH! Congrats from getting away from a crappy office culture into a better place!

      2. Verthandi*

        So true! Good for the letter writer on getting out of that quagmire of distrust!

        I count myself fortunate to work for a company that trusts us to get the job done. A few years ago, some of our jobs required running jobs through an app that involved a lot of mindless clicking. They weren’t common, but when they appeared, they were high priority. So mouse clickers to the rescue.

        Eventually the mindless clicking turned into scripts that could do the same thing within a different app. This was much more efficient. But the clicker app is still around and perfectly acceptable.

        Funnily enough, my manager is the one who pointed me to the mouse clicker app and showed me how to use it because one of those mindless clicking projects came up on my watch and he didn’t want me to get RSI from constant clicking.

  2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    OP, did you have your camera covered at all? I’m wondering how they detected a manual mouse mover… I guess that things weren’t clicked on, but still…

    1. Sunflower*

      It’s probably keystroke software. They could most likely see that the mouse was just moving back and forth in the same pattern.

      1. Samwise*

        Yep. My sister is almost fully WFH. She has a keystroke logger, has to manually log in and out to various statuses to meet “schedule compliance” (answering emails at the specified time, answering phones at specified time, writing reports at specified time, lunch break etc etc). If she’s not on a zoom meeting, she covers the camera because she suspects they spy with it. It’s bananapants!

        She is paid very very well. But it’s a terrible work environment.

        1. WillowSunstar*

          I’ve been told by previous managers we have keystroke loggers, but never have been talked to about it. Guess I get enough work done by our deadlines and make sure I don’t have too much down time –we do have to report minutes worked on projects in Excel. But it’s not billed to customers, so it’s very odd.

        2. Verthandi*

          Yuck! Keystroke loggers are ridiculously distrustful! I’m mostly work from home and all I have to do is declare when I log on, when I take my break (my choice, usually dictated by whether or not I’m in the middle fo something), and when I log off. That’s it! My employer treats us like adults who can be trusted and damn I appreciate it!

          1. Mangled Metaphor*

            I’d be worried about a keystroke logger because my password has (under previous management) been a less than complimentary phrase.
            Something akin to Th1sCompanyCan*@?!0ff (Well, they do ask for special characters…)

            Given that the password was required to access multiple systems, it was quite cathartic to type, until the top brass got rotated and we got someone half competent in charge. HR still haven’t twigged that 90% of the staff are wise to the “of course this staff survey is anonymous” half-truth though.

    2. VaguelySpecific*

      Someone whose computer never goes idle/screensaver is just as suspicious as one that is always idle so it could have been seen that way. It’s possible there many also be software that would notice similar mouse movements at a consistent interval.

    3. LJ*

      Maybe also correlated with break times – imagine minuscule movements all day from exactly 8 to 5 with no lunch or other interruptions

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      My thought was some sort of program/algorithm that compares the amount of mouse movement vs the number of clicks.

      Feels like a waste of technology rather than paying attention to if someone is getting their job done. But I’ve worked at plenty of bad companies that loooove focusing on asinine metrics rather than the actual outcome of your job.

      1. ferrina*

        Yeah, this definitely feels like a waste of someone’s time. Even if the initial detection software was someone’s senior project that they sold, 1) the company either paid money for it or paid for someone’s time to develop it and 2) someone still needs to maintain the software, read the data, and take appropriate action and 3) OP and their manager still need to waste their time discussing OP’s work habits. Any which way, I very much doubt that it’s a productive use of company resources. (especially if the net result is that high performers are leaving)

    5. Maple Bar*

      There an art to this. I used to know someone who made bots to play online games. tl;dr there is a market online for people who will pay real money for in-game currency or items, so people “farm” using bot accounts that just automatically play the game, obtain currency and items, and then the owner of the bot sells it for real cash to shady groups that resell it to other players for more real cash. There are other uses for bots, but this was what my friend did.

      As you might imagine, the companies that make these games devote a lot of effort to trying to catch and ban bot accounts. A big way this is done is that they detect patterns that are too perfect or repetitive– humans will not make a lot of exactly identical mouse movements or identically timed button presses or whathaveyou the way a computer will. Human movements on a computer game are a lot more erratic than an automated one would be, so the automated ones can be caught a lot more easily than you’d expect.

      To evade bot-catching bans, my friend added variables that made the bot movements more irregular. He even introduced a chance of misclicks or incorrect button presses. When he added that, his bots almost never got caught.

      If I had to guess, the LW was using something that was supposed to be undetectable because it was not actually on their computer, but the resulting pattern created was too regular in some way. Maybe their computer just never ever went to sleep which is noticeable, but also this company seems to have put some effort into surveillance, so maybe they have something actually monitoring for the type of too-precise or too-repetitive behaviors that indicate automation.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Cool! I was wondering about that.

        So the way to get around that predictive tech is to tie a piece of yarn to your mouse, dangle the end over the edge of the desk…then get a kitten!

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          I have a kitten. The mouse will shortly be on the other side of the house. So might the laptop!

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            One of my cats was a Mighty Huntress. The first mouse she killed was…my computer’s. I had a wireless mouse from then on (and she then brought home small furry creatures on the front step).

        2. Maple Bar*

          Tie a wireless mouse to your dog!

          For real though, when I worked somewhere with an unavoidable sleep mode (that would kick in after just a few minutes and make me spend a bunch of time re-logging in while on the phone with a client, which is when it usually happened) I would put my mouse in my lap. I bounce my leg and shift around quite a bit, so it worked ok. I still got booted sometimes but I knew anything more sophisticated would probably get noticed. The fact that I would be doing it to prevent my computer from kicking me out of a task while I was actively sitting there doing what I was supposed to do would probably not have gotten me out of any trouble.

          But even organic movement might be detectable, I’m sure there are like mouse movement to click ratios or keystroke math that could still notice that you’re just mouse wiggling to keep the screen awake. Alas for me trying to keep a client file open in front of them while talking on the phone, what some corporate goofus thinks working “should” look like in an enforceable way is unlikely to match reality in many cases.

          1. Chirpy*

            This is exactly my fear of my work’s new 60 second sleep time out. That’s short enough that someday it’s going to lock while I’m talking to a customer face to face if they have questions about a special order…and it’s a standing desk with an awkward reach to the keyboard/ mouse, so I can’t just sit there jiggling it…

            1. Maple Bar*

              This was basically the situation I was in with that job, the sleep timer was something incredibly short and disruptive. I never timed it but it was definitely under 3 mins and I think more like 90 seconds. It would regularly lock while I was reading something on the screen or talking to a client on the phone, so I had to just constantly wiggle my mouse or set it in my lap. And of course, when it went to sleep, you had to re-log in to everything and it took it quite a while to actually boot up again. If you were on the phone it was a Problem.

              This is why I can’t get on board with the “well, it WAS dishonest…” comments. There are so many companies with bad quote-unquote “security” settings that are both not effective and actually disruptive, and companies where people will be the idle police and flip out if they see your icon turn yellow for a hot minute. This is what’s going to happen if you treat your employees like toddlers, and I don’t think the employees are the ones in the wrong if they try to work around it!

  3. Bridget*

    I saw a video on Instagram of someone using an oscillating desk fan attached to their mouse as a mouse jiggler. I wonder if that would be detected. Given that yours wasn’t plugged in nor used downloaded software, I wonder if the tracker can somehow detect “unnatural” mouse movements and/or tell that you’re not actually clicking on anything.

    Fascinating. So many things to keep in mind to ask about when I’m searching for remote jobs.

    1. Excel-sior*

      I would imagine that ‘Big Business’ pump in a lot of money to make sure this sort of detection technology is as ‘good’ as it possibly can be.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      I’m assuming that fan moved back and forth in the same pattern and didn’t move naturally like a person would move a mouse while using it normally. If that’s the case, it sounds like it would have been detected too.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I wonder if using the two in combo would produce enough randomness to confuse the program (or if randomness is what is alarming.)

    3. A Nonnie Mouse*

      I put an old analog watch under the mouse laser when I step away from my desk. Keeps the computer from going to sleep. I’ve also seen mouse stands that have a space built in for an analog watch. Seems like it would work and be less detectable, since it’s only once small movement about once every minute as the second hand passes.

  4. Antilles*

    a former manager of mine got reprimanded for having her personal email open on her computer all day while she worked so that she could respond to a time-sensitive family matter because she had “spent all day on non-work-related websites”
    This is laughable. Having the window open does not mean you’re spending all day on it. Like, do they think she was just blankly staring at the email inbox for 8 straight hours waiting on it to appear?
    Especially if they’re (apparently?) using other forms of tracking software since they can obviously tell that she just left the window open in the background.

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      Right? I mean, how many of us have a half million or so tabs open all day? I’m not on all of them all the time, obviously, they’re just there so I don’t have to open them up every time.

      1. ferrina*

        Wow, that must make me super productive! I have a bunch of work tabs open at any given time- it’s as good as a Time Turner!

      1. Gumby*

        I have been on our company website, xkcd, acquisition.gov, and Incoterms 2020 for at least the last year. I reference them enough that I just have them open all the time. They are all bookmarked and I could probably close the tabs but… meh, it works for me.

        1. I have RBF*

          Yeah, I have a few documentation sites open all day when I reference them. I never close the tabs because I’m never sure when I’m going to need them again. Plus I have the ticketing system open, plus the documentation site…

          You can’t tell what I’m doing from the tabs I have open. A company that tries to do this is wasting its effort and money chasing phantoms, IMO.

    2. Moira Rose*

      I would be ripshit if I were reprimanded for having my personal email open all day. It’s open in a tab that I can check occasionally to make sure that nothing is exploding in my non-work life. It’s not up for debate!

    3. FrivYeti*

      I know that people are quick to say things like this, but if I was called into a meeting and reprimanded for that situation, I would start by explaining the situation and politely asking for the reprimand to be struck from my record, and if it was not I would quit on the spot.

    4. kupo*

      I worked at a place where I got a warning for having hotmail open. I later got assigned a team so I was able to see their internet activity reports. It was just “how many page loads” and you could see the specific URLs being hit. You needed to not show up in the top 10% of internet usage, that was all they actually cared about (aside from actually inappropriate content). I once got into the top 10% by just doing a part of my job (after I had moved all personal internet usage onto my phone, so absolutely none of it was non-work-related). I had to look up details for a specific thing on external websites because the department that had the data I needed refused to even reply to email requests from my department. I explained to my manager that he could reach out to the other department and ask them to send us the data instead and showed him the spreadsheets we used to track the data I had to go spelunking for and he backed off.

      That was the worst place I’ve worked at and I’ve worked in food service jobs that involved nonstop sexual harassment.

    5. Meghan*

      Its terrible management! If you’re concerned that a WFH employee is shirking off, look at their output of *work* not… whatever this company is doing.

      1. Dances with Flax*

        But…but…evaluating an employee’s productivity would require their manager to actually, y’know, MANAGE their staff instead of relying on computer programs that record irrelevant data. It would require those managers to focus on the quality and quantity of work that their reports produce! Much easier to forget about the humans doing the work and concentrate on what the latest computer monitoring program says…

    6. SAS*

      Yes, we get sent news articles relevant to our work fairly regularly and if it’s a long form article I will often keep the tab sitting there to go back to read during breaks.

      I got a warning from IT about my excessive data usage and extended time on non-work sites! Seems one article in particular had a looping video that made it appear that I had watched hours of footage. There was very little common sense to the whole thing.

  5. V*

    I have work that requires a fair amount of sitting and staring blankly at times while my brain does things. I’ve always had extremely positive feedback on my work and my responsiveness to co-workers.

    And still, I have a habit of jiggling my own damn mouse to keep me active on whatever messenger client an employer is using.

    I was very glad of this habit when at a three month check in on a new position my manager said that he’d been specifically pleased to see my icon green all the time, because he likes to keep an eye on that for remote employees. Just because you’re paranoid, etc…

    1. Rainbow*

      Oh jeez, now I’m paranoid that my manager is watching my icon colour too! (He’s not. He could not possibly care less.)

      1. Chem nerd*

        As a chemist I find it wild that companies track employee’s computer status as a way to gauge productivity. My computer goes idle at the time when I have to step away to the lab bench. Not to mention time spent in meetings, in seminars, or just generally thinking about my research and sketching out plans on a white board. I realize my job isn’t the norm for a lot of people but still shouldn’t productivity be measured based on the work done and ability to meet deadlines?

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Yeah, I think I show as offline more when I’m in the lab than when I work from home! It’s such a stupid proxy for productivity.

        2. Lizzy May*

          It should. but I’ve found when you’re dealing with a poor manager they just find it easier to make sure you’re always online because that must mean you are in fact working.

        3. Kat*

          The original letter says company detected the mouse jiggler and she was reprimanded. I’m not sure how much company was using keyboarding as a productivity focus and was more upset bc the jiggler was discovered. I don’t think any company wants to feel an employee is possibly pulling something over on them. I see both sides. I think it’s good she got another job for both parties.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            Yeah, I think I’d react more harshly to someone specifically using a “cheating” mechanism than if they were just slacking off naturally.

            1. Database Developer Dude*

              But the OP wasn’t slacking off, she was getting her work done, despite the effed up metric they were using to measure productivity.

              I’m a software and database engineer. You want me writing code, not hanging out on chat all day. I’d fail this test too….

      2. Allura Vysoren*

        My last job had us under constant video surveillance at the office (no joke) and fired someone for using Skype too much (Skype was our internal messaging software, the person he was talking to all the time was his boss). I’m confident my boss doesn’t care as long as the work gets done and I see her icon going away all the time, but I’m still paranoid about making sure I appear active unless I’m on break.

        1. Happily Retired*

          Wait up. They fired someone for talking to their boss on Skype too much?! Did the boss not intervene?

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Sometimes my icon is yellow when I’m active if Teams itself is minimized. Not consistently. If my employer cared I’d have a constant meltdown.

    3. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

      I also have the paranoid habit of alt-tabbing periodically to Teams to show as green, because it gets jealous if I am paying attention to Those Other MS programs instead of it, and responds by turning my status yellow. I have tried tweaking the settings, nothing. It gets jilted when I am having deep session with Excel.

      1. Tech Writer*

        This, for sure.

        I’m a writer/editor. I proofread a lot. Teams is *always* going yellow on me, because apparently just scrolling down a page in Word and making an occasional keystroke (commas, usually) doesn’t count as “active.”

        1. londonedit*

          Yes, exactly. If I’m going through a set of proof corrections Teams will say I’m ‘away’ because I haven’t looked at anything except a PDF for the last half an hour.

      2. From Hell’s Heart I Stab at Teams*

        Between this sort of thing and all the times it forcibly reinstalled itself on my personal laptop like it was a computer virus, I find myself developing Captain Ahab levels of hatred for Microsoft Teams.

  6. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

    Congratulations OP! I’m glad to see you were able to move to a new role, with a company that doesn’t seem to be so mistrusting. I would have found it very difficult to work in that type of environment.

    I’m curious if you had an exit interview, and if you brought up the sense of mistrust of employees. To be honest, if it was me, I don’t think I would have brought it up – I wouldn’t risk a bad reference in the future over it. But I’m curious if you did.

  7. Monday*

    I hope this is a lesson to employers who overly monitor their workers – people DO resent it, and they DO sometimes move on.

  8. Carmen*

    I don’t think my company is “tracking” us but I know some people get their panties in a bunch when they see someone’s Teams icon is “away”. When I am walking around the house but still technically available I open a MS Word document and put my stapler on the space bar. It keeps me “active”. I don’t know if that would help someone who works for a company as micromanaging as OP’s but just putting it out there for others if it helps. It’s honestly ridiculous we have to do things like this sometimes.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          I had a red stapler at my previous job. It wasn’t a Swingline, but man… those jokes never stopped :)

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I haven’t ever had any fallout from being “Away” on Teams, but I’m still nervous about it. Even if sometimes it’s because I’m drawing out a process or figuring something out on my white board. This is a brilliant solution!

      1. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

        hey, that actually is a good idea. Join with another coworker and you two can be “on a call” while you do whatever.

        Actually, this reminds me of something I recently saw. It was an advertisement for something like this where you choose an amount of time, you get matched with a random person. You talk for a few minutes. Introduce yourself, tell the other person what you are working on (I’m going to clear out my email, I’m going to write this article, etc) and then you just mute yourselves, work for X amount of time, and at the end you talk through how much you accomplished and how you feel.

        1. Zephy*

          You don’t even need to have another person in the Teams call for Teams to show you as “in a call,” just start one by yourself.

    2. rayray*

      I just do not understand these people. It’s absurd to use someone’s status on a chat program as an indicator of their productivity. I have heard of many people doing something similar to you, and some people even have written scripts to type a . every few minutes.

      You could literally even just mark yourself as busy or place a call to a time/temperature phone line (Utah still has one that is active) and just let the phone sit on that call which would show you as “On a Call”.

    3. starscourge savvy*

      A coworker of mine sets something on their Tab key and just lets it cycle if they need to get up while working from home. I wonder what that would look like to a monitoring program!

    4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I find Teams status as very inaccurate, I don’t pay attention to them and just ask whomever to get back to me when they are free.

      1. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

        Yea. I was out sick for a week due to covid. Once I knew it was going to be more than a day I set my email Out of office message. But because I wasn’t sure when I would be back I didn’t set an end date and turned it off manually when I got back. Well, all day Thursday teams said I was “available” but “Out of Office.” I signed out, and tried to refresh my status. Updated Teams. Nothing changed until the next day.

      2. Zephy*

        Or just, like, send whatever message and trust that they’ll see it at some point, because written communication is by definition asynchronous. I wish I knew how to turn off Outlook’s “send this message during business hours” prompt. If real-time communication were that goddamned important I would just call them, Microsoft.

  9. ArtsNerds*

    Every day I’m more and more grateful for IT departments who are terrified of Macs (even if it’s just baffling at this point). I’m more than happy to set up my own computer, keep my admin permissions, and know exactly what software is on it.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      My IT department just locked down our Macs and I am not a fan! More surveillance, no control over what’s on it or when things update, no app access, and no ability to personalize even the sleep timer. A sign of things to come :/

    2. Timothy (TRiG)*

      I work for a tiny tech company, building websites. At the time I joined, the boss & admin were fully invested in MS Office suite, while we programmers mostly worked on Ubuntu. So I set up my own computer, and have full admin rights thereon. (They’ve now switched to Google Docs.)

  10. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Based on your description of your work – long-term complex projects – I’m guessing that tracking tracking when your computer goes to sleep / a chat program sets you as “Away” is not a good metric of whether you’re working. You could look “Away” when you’re actually mapping something out on a white board, reading something in hard copy, thinking deeply, talking to a colleague/client on the phone, etc. Given how they punished someone just for having an e-mail account open, your now-former (!) company doesn’t seem to accept any nuance about this type of thing.

    So good call getting out before they started being weird about all of this.

  11. CindyLouWho*

    My team finds MS Teams’ status to be unreliable. Half the time, it shows team members to be away when they are active.

    So anyone here wants to ask me where I was is likely to hear that I’ve been available and working the whole time.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’ve noticed this too. The only thing I pay attention to is if someone is red so I don’t bother them.

      1. Sorrischian*

        That doesn’t even always work – in my department, ‘in a meeting’ on Teams can span anything from ‘very important meeting, do not disturb unless it’s an emergency’ to ‘sitting in on sibling department’s weekly announcements, entirely available’ to ‘having a walking one-on-one, won’t see any messages until I’m back’ so we have an elaborate system of away messages to cover the gap.

    2. boberta*

      Yeah, I had an internship once where I was explicitly told that team policy was to take everything other than in a call or an actual away message, not just status, as indication that they were either available or would be soon.

      That was a few years ago and I don’t work with MS Teams anymore so I would hope it’s more reliable now, but the onboarding process then was very explicit: Teams status is not to be trusted unless the assumption you’re making is really going to bite you in the ass. I find it wild that anyone is gauging productivity of it if it hasn’t changed since then.

      1. GovtStooge*

        As someone whose entire phone system just got transferred to Teams… it has not. I still can’t tell who is here vs who is not.

  12. Ellis Bell*

    It’s the stupidity of OPs company that is the most maddening part. I could see a company tracking mouse or keyboard movement, (I don’t think it’s a great idea but I can see it happening) but then I would at least expect them to look more intelligently at the person highlighted rather than just blindly accept that “the computer says you’re lazy”. If OP’s performance was poor, or otherwise a concern they could raise those more solid concerns without ever mentioning the tracker systems which would obviously make people feel surveilled. The comments made to the colleague suggesting that she “was on a personal website all day” rather than considering that she had a tab open is beyond dumb. This is the type of person who drives into a lake because their sat nav tells them to.

  13. rayray*

    The fact that mouse jigglers even exist just goes to show how ridiculous some workplace cultures are. When appearances matter more than output, something really must be wrong with that team, management, or company. Besides all this, what about the people who are monitoring everyone’s Teams status? Are they being paid to babysit or are they being paid to be a manager?

  14. Boof*

    As i understand it, if you feel compelled to use a mouse jiggler (or similar arbitrary but trackable disguise) your company is doing something wrong if you aren’t (ie, the few people who are using it to hide actual lack of availability for their job duties etc)

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I am dumbfounded at the logic. This is literally the same logic when people “blame the victim.” The OP in this letter didn’t give a good reason for using a jiggler. They were just saing they do alot of work so the jiggler was pointless but would raise red flags for any manager, good or bad, who now thinks that their job isn’t as detailed as they thought.

      Not to mention that they “got in trouble” which isn’t the end of the world. They got lucky finding a new job in that tail end of the great resignation.

      I don’t feel like there is a lesson to learn here, it’s just interesting to see what happened. But trying to act like there was a moral failing by the employer is a really bad takeaway

      1. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

        That is literally not literally the same logic when people “blame the victim.”

      2. Some words*

        Agreed. It’s the backwards thinking that staff is working to serve the software. We should push back on this as a matter of course.

        Software was created to meet our needs (supposedly). Managers can’t rely on these types of poorly designed tools as useful in managing people and work output.

      3. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

        Prospect Gone Bad, what do you think the employer is a “victim” of? Someone leaving? An employer taking longer breaks than they want while also getting their work done?

        Given that “victim blaming” is a term usually associated with things like sexual assault, don’t you think that’s a bit of a bad comparison?

        The failing (moral and professional) by the company isn’t so much that they monitor the jiggler use, it is the way they handled the whole situation.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          It’s a metaphor. It means putting blame on the person who was more hurt during an interaction. People here are making OP out as a victim when if anyone is, it’s the manager. Most good managers would start sleuth micro-managing and investigating what their employee does all day since doing what OP did is basically screaming at your boss that you have so much free time that you need to do this.

          Everyone keeps saying “but your boss should check your productivity” to every letter where a boss proverbially comes within a 100 miles of of an employee. But think of it this way, some employees have vague areas of responsibility like “manage risk.” If someone did the clicker thing I would assume they’d stopped actually analyzing risk and started making educated guesses. Because if they were busy doing the work, no need for a clicker to appear like you’re doing work. It’s like carrying around a fake AARP card and being confused when people think you’re over 62

          1. Me ... Just Me*

            To me, that’s the crux of the issue – “Because if they were busy doing the work, no need for a clicker to appear like you’re doing work.”

          2. Eyes Kiwami*

            People say your boss should check productivity because they mean check productivity, not check whether Teams/instant messenger of choice thinks you are active or not. Working does not always mean actively clicking and typing (could be thinking! or reading! or brainstorming on paper!) and clicking and typing don’t always indicate work (could be on other websites! or playing games! or on AAM!).

            Instead managers have the power to talk to their employees about what they’re working on, how long it should take, and check in when that deadline arrives.

            Very bizarre to paint the manager as the victim in this situation, as if the manager has no choice but to enforce bizarre mistrustful systems onto their workers. The manager is the person with power in this exchange.

      4. Boof*

        ? Not sure my comment was clear; point is the company/management is rotten for tracking mouse juggles above meaningful output and probably feeling compelled to use one in the first place is a red flag to get out

      5. Boof*

        Wait, I misread the last sentence. Yes the employer IS failing if they are using bad metrics to judge their employees! IDK if attributing “morals” to a group makes sense so “moral failing” is a bit strong, but it’s certainly bad management, demoralizing, and worth looking around for better jobs /environments as OP did.

      6. Random Dice*

        Boof was saying the opposite – this is usually a failing of the employer, assuming one isn’t one of the tiny number of actual slackers.

  15. Jessica*

    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes! Congratulations on your escape, LW, and I hope your old company is suffering from the loss of your excellent work.

  16. KatEnigma*

    I still maintain that 1) “They made me do it” is not an adequate defense or taking responsibility for LW’s own poor choice and dishonesty and 2) “No one complained” does not equal high level of productivity or others not having to do LW’s work while they were away from their desk for long periods of time.

    1. Long Time Fed*

      I agree. OP was dishonest. He/she deserves some flak for that. Tell your bosses that you aren’t always online when you are working, but don’t rig it so that it appears you are active when you aren’t.

    2. Keep Smiling*

      I would assume OP would notice if parts of their work were being done by other people? Because they wouldn’t be doing it themselves? I think we can take their word on that.

    3. Br16*

      Agree. I’m surprised at the congratulatory tone of a lot of these comments. OP did something dishonest and got caught. I’m glad they like their new role better and I agree some companies can be micromanagy, but I’m not sure why the OP is being congratulated here. They were deceitful.

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        The congratulatory tone is most likely because most of us recognize that “morality” is not black and white and that an individual using a mouse mover to keep their job/not get reprimanded while doing a good job in their job is much better than the micromanaging, untrusting corporation that has such intrusive requirements.

        1. Br16*

          And you don’t see any issue with it raising trust issues and casting suspicion on all remote employees ?

          Also my company is picking on me is not an excuse. If you feel that way, you leave, as this person did. A mouse jiggler is dishonest, period.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yeah I straight up have no issue with deceit. I have no issue with malicious compliance, I have no issue with hacks or shortcuts or anything that makes people able to survive unreasonable jobs and bad managers. And to be clear, I work in HR.

            People need jobs to survive, and “go out and get a new one” is not realistic advice for people in the short term. There are consequences to things like mouse jugglers, sure – you may get written up. There’s also consequences to forcing yourself to be productive 100% of the time. You burn out.

            It’s much easier to slack off in an office than it is remotely. It’s socially acceptable to get coffee, chat with your coworkers, ‘look busy’ when you’re not. People take extra long breaks in the office all. the. time. Extremely few people are actively working 40 hours a week. But if you’re remote and getting your status icon monitored or your keystrokes counted. It’s better for remote workers to use these workarounds and preserve their sanity than it is to lose your job for saying “I won’t be doing that”.

            If your manager has no problem with your output than you are doing the job that you were hired to do. Anything else you need to do to survive is fine by me. And I’m writing a lot of policies.

            1. Goldenrod*

              “I have no issue with hacks or shortcuts or anything that makes people able to survive unreasonable jobs and bad managers.”

              Amen, and hallelujah!

            2. 2 Cents*

              Anyone who claims that every minute of their workday everyday is productive has never managed to look busy for 8 hours and suffer no consequences. I’m conscientious and go above and beyond, but if there’s nothing to do (and the office has a butts in seats policy), it’s time to get coffe, chat with some coworkers, rearrange my desk, sort emails, play on my phone, etc.

          2. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

            In this case I don’t believe that a mouse jiggler is dishonest. OP had high reviews and got all her work done. There were no problems. Using a mouse jiggler while you go get a cup of coffee or step outside for a few moments so you’re computer doesnt goe to sleep and you don’t get reimanded is not a big deal. I see it no different than if you were in the office and went to get some coffee or stepped down the hall to chat with a coworker about last night’s game.
            We are humans and humans do not output exactly 8 hours of work. Even in the office. As someone mentioned above its the thought of Am i being paid for my time or am i being paid for my work. If someone can get all their work done what does it matter?

          3. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Zero issue whatsoever. Because good employers aren’t going to care one way or the other as long as the work is getting done.

            Don’t you realize that “if you don’t like it, leave” is not a position most people can be in when it comes to their livelihood? Is OP supposed to burn themselves out making sure they’re looking active “enough” while their potentially looking for a new job for months and months, if not years? Or are they supposed to just quit and somehow get by?

              1. Happy meal with extra happy*

                This doesn’t address my comment. Job searches for a good job can take months or years. What does the person do in the meantime? Burn themselves out leading to an actual decrease in quality work product?

          4. Boof*

            Honestly when you punish someone for normal, reasonable things it does push people to do “deceitful” things. I’m taking op at their word that they were doing their job as they were supposed to; still don’t quite understand what motivated them to use the jiggler in the first place but it just shouldn’t be a thing they were reprimanded for (as opposed to “you are unreachable frequently during normal working hours” or whatever an actual problem might be

        2. redflagday701*

          Right? It’s wild to me to see commenters taking the side of the poor beleaguered employer. Even if we lived on a version of Earth where employers didn’t already have disproportionately more power than workers, surveillance like mouse-tracking is such a gross violation; there’s no justification for it as a management tool. It’s always disheartening to see what some people are not just willing to accept but ready to defend.

        3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          But the OP can’t influence the “micromanaging, untrusting corporation” and it’s a fallacy to compare OPs behaviour and the company’s behaviour.

          They can only influence their own behaviour, and their options here were deceive the company and cheat, or don’t do that. They don’t believe it to be wrong (I disagree but can understand their point of view as well) and acted according to their own view of morality. I think it is quite “black and white” thinking to describe the company this way without considering that there may be a reason e.g. previous productivity issues (from different people / generally).

      2. tinybutfierce*

        Probably because most of us have more empathy for the OP than a company who thinks being this micromanage-y is remotely reasonable.

      3. Well...*

        Who do you think this site is supposed to help? If it’s to help companies extract maximum productivity from people until they are lifeless husks, then it’s not the site for me. Dunking on us for congratulate someone who moved on to a better situation feels… like an odd choice. I think we’re allowed to be happy for people who write in looking for advice, take the advice, and become happier because of it. That’s the whole point.

        1. Br16*

          I did say I was happy for them that they moved on. I’m is it surprised at how many people on here see no issue with deceitful behavior.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I do mean this sincerely, and with empathy to your point of view, but I think you need to recalibrate your ethical compass. This is a nuanced issue that you’re approaching from a very black and white mindset.

            1. Br16*

              Most of the comments i have seen on here have NOT been nuanced. They have been entirely in favor of what OP did, without even considering that even if justified, this type of thing increases suspicion of remote workers.

              1. Darsynia*

                The suspicion was already there, hence detecting a not-connected-to-the-computer mouse jiggler, but thanks.

              2. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

                Mistrust breeds mistrust. If you mistrust, spy on and infantilise your employees, don’t be surprised if they don’t trust you and start to behave this way.

                Also, monitoring how often a mouse moves at the expense of performance outcomes sends sends clear message that this is what matters and your actual work isn’t of as much value. So, again, don’t be surprised if that impacts the way people approach their work.

                Perhaps an in-office equivalent is if you monitor whether people are in before 9 and stay late, over the results they deliver, you’ll eventually get employees who work inefficiently but achieve nothing.

                Also, if one home worker does behave dishonestly, it should not sour people on home working in general unless they’re irrational, because one example isn’t evidence of anything.

                1. Tech Writer*

                  My folks used to say, “If you treat your employees like they’re always trying to cheat you, eventually they will.”

                  I am thinking right now, too, about the LW who wrote in about being shocked and upset that she had to bite a co-worker who was physically restraining her. And we all talked about how toxic environments can make perfectly normal people do things that are… not so normal.

                  A few people here are piling on this LW because she reacted quite predictably to a toxic environment, and that makes me really sad.

                2. Ticky Marks*

                  There is a classic business article: Kerr, S. (1975). On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B. Academy of Management journal, 18(4), 769-783.

                  The company is rewarding computer interaction and hoping for productivity.

                  In my own organization, counting numbers are called ticky marks, since originally they were recorded on a paper. The mindset of bean counters still lives on where quality is of no consideration.

              3. Well...*

                Consider that maybe it isn’t our role to judge LWs but to help them? That’s why you aren’t seen unproductive judgement in the comments, not because they lack nuance but because it’s not necessarily helpful, especially in an update post.

              4. Fishsticks*

                The suspicion and mistrust was there long before the OP had a jiggler. Keyloggers should be illegal.

      4. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

        I’m a little surprised that LW was surprised, if indeed they knew their employer was the type of mustache-twirling villain that made a mouse jiggler useful. But this idea that literally all forms of deceit are immoral is not, in fact, universally espoused by ethicists.

        While “lying is always bad” is an easy rule to memorize, many (if not most) ethical frameworks weigh power, impact, and conflicting justice-based ideals when analyzing the morality of a given action.

        1. redflagday701*

          A good couples therapist will tell you there’s even something called “lie-inviting behavior.” If you insist on placing unreasonable constraints on your partner — like demanding to know their precise location and exactly what they’re doing at all times, and freaking out whenever you don’t like the answer — you cannot reasonably expect them to be honest with you.

      5. Age Discrimination Sucks*

        Oh good grief, the jiggler just keeps you from manually jiggling. A person doing the job well that they were hired to do is not being deceitful. A person not doing the job well that they were hired to do while goofing off but not using a jiggler is being deceitful. Wage slavery culture is terrible, as is this American puritan work-ethic garbage. All this pearl-clutching over a simple tech device. So stupid.

    4. Maple Bar*

      Go backfill their job if you love being monitored so much, lmao. I guarantee you that whatever amount of moving around during the day you find to be reasonable, this place would disagree, and you’d end up getting reprimanded too.

      1. Br16*

        This is definitely the the last time I comment my honest thoughts on this website, if all im going to get is vitriol. I truly felt that the OP was wrong and said so. I didn’t expect to get jumped on in this way for expressing my point of view.

            1. Well...*

              Then you should be okay with all of us telling you that we feel your point of view is wrong and saying so…

            2. Me ... Just Me*

              There are a few of us who do believe that honesty is part of a good moral framework. So take heart!

            3. Super sweet*

              Br16–While I do disagree with your point on morality in regards to this letter, I do agree with you in general that SOME folx in this community do tend to use their soapbox to climb up to their very high horses in order to cannonball pile on to comments and people they disagree with. Dissent is not usually welcome unless everyone else agrees.

        1. ACM*

          Your point of view is not calibrated well with normal human ethics. I’m sorry this is an unpleasant experience for you, but maybe consider the notion that you’re the outlier here and why others think the way they do.

          Of course, I’m open to the idea I could be wrong and you can tell me why you feel a bit of deceit to keep the bosses off the back is as bad as the bosses being micromanage.

        2. Eddie Crane*

          You’re not being “jumped on” and I can’t see any “vitriol.” A lot of people disagree. They have explained why. It’s no harsher language than you accusing the OP of “deceit.”

        3. Fishsticks*

          This site tends to be very pro-worker. And is often populated by many people who have listened to a LOT of corporate excuse-making for the unacceptable behaviors that it is somehow A-OK for an employer to do but ends in people who really, really want the employer to be in the right clutching pearls if an employee responds to it.

        4. Maple Bar*

          Interesting that you consider someone pointing out that you, too, would be in trouble because the LW’s company is behaving unreasonably to be “vitriol,” and yet you called the LW dishonest and deceitful while agreeing with someone else calling them a dishonest bad employee who makes poor choices and has poor performance.

          What’s your standard for civility, exactly?

        5. L-squared*

          Honestly, I think its because not only did you seem to think they were wrong, but seem to be judging others for NOT thinking as you did. That is why you are getting the reaction you are.

          You could have left it at “Well, I still think the mouse jiggler is deceitful, but congrats on the new job”. And that probably would’ve been fine

    5. Anonymoose*

      The reason for the mouse juggler was to keep the computer from going to sleep or to take long breaks—neither of which is an evil reason. Sure, maybe not forthright, but this employer sounds like a nitpicking nitpicker that wouldn’t approve long breaks as accommodations, etc.

      The evidence for high productivity was: “moved up in the company over the seven years that I’ve been there and have always gotten excellent performance reviews and have done a lot of process improvement” —

      No sign that anyone else had to cover while the mouse was jiggling…

    6. Feral Humanist*

      This is, again, a difference between people who believe they are being paid for their TIME vs. those who believe they are being paid for their WORK. Good managers — and companies — manage work, IMO. That means more jigglers shouldn’t be necessary, because if there is an issue with the work, that is what gets addressed. The OP has offered plenty of evidence here for there not being an issue with the work (that you don’t seem to believe them seems to me to a you-thing, not a them-thing), so the issue is a butts-in-seats management approval, which results in mouse jigglers and the loss of a high performer. It was lazy management, and the company got what it deserved.

    7. tinybutfierce*

      Re: 2 – The original letter explicitly states OP is a high performer who has always gotten excellent performance reviews & moved up in the company, and none of their supervisors ever expressed concern about their work, which they presumably would in some way if anyone else was having to deal with OP’s work regularly because of the occasional long break. If we’re going to take letter writers at their word like Allison asks us to, there’s no reason to doubt OP about the quality of their work.

    8. Well...*

      1) Who cares, I definitely don’t. and 2) “No one complained” also isn’t evidence that LW as causing any kind of problem? The absence of evidence that LW caused a problem just isn’t enough for me to not be happy for her, sorrynotsorry

    9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I maintain that you are absolutely correct, assuming that LW was being paid for sitting in their chair and typing aimlessly on their keyboard for X hours a day without stopping. Then yes, they were not doing their job while making it appear as if they were. Especially if their absence led to having others fill in and do this work for LW (by typing twice as fast? on two keyboards? while sitting in two chairs? Who can tell!) This is, however, a highly odd job description, that I have never seen before and am not sure how a company would profit from paying people to do this.

      If OP was being paid for producing specific deliverables, were producing them, and being rewarded and moved up for it, then your comment does not make a lot of sense.

      1. Still*

        Now that’s a hilarious picture!

        Of course, in theory the employer has the right to measure whatever metrics they want to, however useless or irrelevant. But if you can’t assess my performance without being able to time my toilet breaks, you’re probably not a great manager.

      2. arthur lester*

        Your writing voice is delightful. My day has been made immensely better by reading this comment C:

      3. Verthandi*

        The company really needs to create a temp job that starts Nov 1 and ends Nov 30. The deliverable is a 50,000 word first draft of a novel.

    10. KTB1*

      That is an astonishingly bad faith take if you read the original letter at all. The OP gave zero indication that others were having to do their work or even that they were away from their desk for “long periods of time.” They simply stated an “occasional longer break than usual” and gave evidence via excellent performance reviews and promotions that they are doing a good job.

      OP’s choice was due to a very poor choice made by their employer to track bad metrics. No one complained because there wasn’t actually a problem.

      1. Age Discrimination Sucks*

        Yeah, these same employers that would complain about a longer break would say nothing when an employee skips their break because of pressing matters. Hypocrisy. Let adults be adults.

      2. Random Bystander*

        And of course, back in the in-office days, people were taking “longer than usual breaks” all the time with impunity. (The person at the desk next to me routinely took 20-minute “15 minute breaks” and a 45-minute “half-hour lunch” while also spending much of the time she *was* at her desk complaining about how heavy the work load was. I wouldn’t have cared one way or the other about the first part if it weren’t for the second part — not that I went and tattled, as I just did my best to ignore her … she was truly a bad co-worker who also played her radio (instead of doing what everyone else did and listen to music through earbuds), insisted that the light-blocking blinds be down all day, and pathologically worried about me being “sick” every time I sneezed (“no, the tree pollen is exceptionally high today” or “no, there’s enough pollen in the air that my car turns yellow when I drive”–yes, I have seasonal allergies … and that happens every year).

    11. fort hiss*

      Yeah actually I love deceit when it’s something as minor as “not getting dinged for not always being at the computer during work hours but still getting my work done,” I think it’s rad as hell.

  17. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

    Thanks for the update OP I was wondering what happened with that!

    On a side note, I really would like to hear from someone who had to be on the manager side of this situation and implement these rules/ talk with someone about using them. Like why did the company choose to monitor keystrokes and mouse movements? How did they know if someone had a mouse mover? Better yet I’d like to hear from the companies tha manufacture the software that detects these monitors and from the companies that make them!

    1. rayray*

      I agree, I genuinely am so curious how someone decides that the Teams status is an indicator of whether or not someone is working vs actually looking at their work. The fact that these software programs exist is crazy to me, there’s clearly enough people managing this way if there is a market for those programs.

      1. Fishsticks*

        Oh, the Teams one is easy. You can just click to open Teams and see what everyone’s little color is, all at once, no muss no fuss. Looking at their actual deliverables takes effort.

    2. Qwerty*

      I’m guessing the software looked at movement paths. Similar to how you can click a checkbox that says “I’m not a robot” on some websites instead of translating words or pictures – the bots can click immediately on the checkbox by traveling in a perfect angle rapidly compared to the micromovements a human would use.

      Never used tracking software, but was at a place where upper management seemed to be almost considering it. No one actually suggested at they found the concept yucky, but certain comments sounded like on some level they were hoping someone else would say it. For the record, I would have shot it down! I think the leaders were feeling a bit powerless and thought it was a way to quickly figure out who needed more supervision without micromanaging everyone.

      The issue at that place was there were a surprising number of employees who it seemed like they were actually working once the pandemic sent everyone home. Their icon would be green/available but response times were 2hr+. Our type of work didn’t have easy metrics. An issue might take a day to resolve or a week – most of that time is spent thinking and banging your head on the wall. Someone struggling from a skill issue looked the same as someone only barely working once we went remote. In the office you notice that someone is never at their desk or is on FB all day vs frustrated at their desk without having to look for it.

      Zoom notifying meeting owners is how we found one junior employee wasn’t working, just logging into meetings 1-2hrs in advance. I thought he was super struggling from lack of support when the reality was he was hiding.

      On the flip side, one guy we thought was doing nothing turned out to working super long hours while ignoring slack and just producing zero results while making stuff up in status calls to hide how poorly he was doing.

      As an IC, I’ve had so many QA people lie about actually testing my work. An app that would crash the moment you opened it passed QA testing with flying colors! When Yahoo brought everybody back to the office over a decade ago, it was the result of a study that compared hours worked to hours logged in. I can’t recall the number of people who weren’t even logging into their computer on days they worked from home, but it was shocking.

  18. MicroManagered*

    The mouse jiggler was a bad idea, no matter how good your work is. Mouse jigglers exist to deceive, by creating the appearance that an inactive computer is active. It’s just not good optics, even if there’s nothing nefarious about your reasons for having one. My recommendation would be not to use one again, period.

    With that said, the fact that your employer was sifting through LOOKING for this type of thing, even from employees who haven’t done anything to warrant suspicion, says a lot about how THEY operate. I’m glad you found a job that you feel is better suited and doesn’t do this kind of thing!

    1. Age Discrimination Sucks*

      Mouse jigglers do not just exist to deceive! They exist as a proxy for human jiggling too!

      1. Giant Kitty*

        A number of people wrote in to the original letter stating that they were often a necessity to keep computers awake during extremely long running processes that would be disrupted if it fell asleep and/or logged out due to inactivity.

        1. Boof*

          Ideally one can just set the computer not to go to sleep; but i suppose some don’t have enough access for that?

          1. Random Bystander*

            Bingo–corporations have an IT dept set the timing for things. When I was in the office, I actually had to have a ticket put in to change my default printer (the one that was automatically set as default was less convenient than the one I wanted). The level of control over such ordinary things is unbelievable.

          2. Quickbeam*

            At one point, we had a system that let the individual set their inactive metric. I picked 30 minutes. Of course then the company went all in for Teams and the inactive red zone was 5 minutes with no ability to change it.

          3. Disabled trans lesbian*

            I can’t set the sleep timer on my work laptop, but luckily my work is reasonable and has set a reasonable timer on it.

          4. Fishsticks*

            Yep. I can’t change any of the settings on my computer – only IT can do that. And IT also isn’t allowed to change the sleep settings – I asked.

    2. raida*

      The only work reason to use a mouse jiggler is when there’s a long process happening and the computer needs to remain unlocked.

      We’ve had a couple of these in the past, and we’d plug in a wireless mouse and just scroll the wheel on it while either doing other work/discussions or getting a cuppa. It was specifically to ensure a work task was done, and overcoming a system limitation.

      I personally have, while working from home, put my wireless mouse under my foot and wiggled it around while playing video games during a weekly Friday afternoon (?!) hour long team catch up. I’m listening, I’m talking, but I did not need to be at my desk two hours after my usual finish time to do it, ha.

      Ideally a member of staff should feel comfortable talking with their manager about how they work, what that looks like, what computer tracking results should be expected from that, is that going to be an issue, do we accept that changing work habits to suit tracking software is likely to diminish results, etc.
      I completely understand that’s not going to happen in every workplace, and in some the actual result would be more suspicion and a paranoid manager. But just assuming it won’t go well so I’ll work around it even though I know there’s tracking… not a good solution and not one I would back

  19. Well...*

    Reading OP have to address some of the nonsense in the comments made me kind of sad, but I’m happy OP has moved on the bigger and better things.

  20. Addison DeWitt*

    There are certain workplaces that just like to knock people down and keep them in a state of fearful guilt. I freelanced (copywriting) at an ad agency and objectively kicked butt– selling stuff to clients who everyone told me never bought anything good, winning as many awards as the whole agency had the previous year, etc. My review came and they told me all the things I did wrong– other creatives told me, oh, that’s what everybody’s review is like. It only took me a couple of days– checking in with some account executives I respected to see if I was kidding myself about how my work deserved to be viewed—and then I just quit, said, I’m good, see ya. They were floored I could take it that way. I was floored they expected anything else from somebody with a reasonable degree of self-respect.

  21. BellyButton*

    I hate any sort of monitoring like that. One of the executives in my company suggested a monitoring app, and when I pushed back it came out that they have an issue with ONE person’s productivity. I told them very clearly that having a tool to monitor productivity does nothing but make people feel violated and is just a tool. You still have to deal with whatever issue the tool reports. We are a very open and transparent company, people can work flexible schedules, as long as people are getting their work done and it is high quality we don’t need to have interventions. If an intervention IS necessary, deal with that person and don’t punish the entire company.

  22. CaliPara*

    Some things I’ve learned about Teams –

    If you’re using the web version, and not the app, it will show you as inactive any time you’re not actively typing IN Teams. Whereas the app version will count any activity where you’re typing/ mousing as “available”. I learned this when I had an issue with my laptop that prevented use of the app. It was then that I got a mouse jiggler – because it kept showing me “away” when I was working. My manager doesn’t care, but you never know if colleagues might be side-eyeing your availability.

    Being in a meeting will show you as busy ONLY if you’re using a meeting app (Teams, Zoom). If you’re not, and also not typing/mousing, it will eventually show you as away, for example if the meeting ended early.

    If you *manually* set your status to “away” you must also manually set it to “available ” when you return. It will not refresh on it’s own the way it does when you’re inactive.

  23. SofiaDeo*

    I wonder how employers deal with people who don’t use their mouse much, and use the ALT or other keys instead. I went from a typewriter, to early DOS where there were no mice in early computers, When Windows arrived, I found it slowed me down to be using a mouse a lot instead of the keypad, in certain programs!

  24. Age Discrimination Sucks*

    All this energy expended to manipulation systems to appear working when working is so silly and counterproductive. Computers used to be tools, now they are clubs.

  25. Jedi Sentinel Bird*

    LW, Happy to hear the good news that you got a different job and that you got out of that toxic environment! Good luck on your new job. Hopefully this company is a lot better than the last one you were at. On the topic of mouse jigglers I think they help in regards to just focus on the job. I don’t have to worry about moving a cursor just so I look like I’m active because I’m working on other stuff with my job. It disrupts my flow if I have to keep on moving a cursor just so it stays green. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing what you need to do for your job, but at the same time also focusing on other stuff that’s important to you that brings enrichment. Because at the end of the day that company is going to look out for themselves. You ultimately have to look out for your own well-being.

  26. DomaneSL5*

    I am probably in the minority in this, but I am not super excited by this update. I really wished the LW had learned and grown from their choice to use a mouse wiggler. I get the company might have been overbearing, but that isn’t really excuse to do something unethical.

    1. L-squared*

      So OP has a new and better job, and you aren’t excited by it? You wanted what, some kind of karma to hurt the OP for daring to do this?

    2. Eyes Kiwami*

      Looks like they learned that it’s a sign to work somewhere else. Not sure what other moral lesson they could have learned from a company that thinks having a personal email window open in the background=not working all day

    3. Happy*

      LW did learn and grow and realize that they didn’t have to work someplace that would scrutinize their mouse movements rather than the quality their work. Hooray!

  27. L-squared*

    I can’t say I’m surprised some of the same company suck ups who were on their moral high horse on the last post are back at it again.

    The idea that this is somehow unethical, when many people are browsing this site, running errands, etc while working and they think that is just fine is ridiculous.

    OP, good for you. Don’t let all these others get you down

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