‘Mouse Jigglers’ Fired
5 Minute Read
5 Minute Read

Mouse Jigger (plural mouse jigglers) – Noun 

A program that simulates periodic mouse movements to prevent the machine going into a standby state.  

Device/software that fakes mouse movement to give the impression someone is working or that the computer appears to be in active use in the event remote surveillance is undertaken of the use of the machine.

Mouse Jiggler, a contender for a new dictionary entry if the wonderful world of the Internet misinformation is to be believed!

Despite it being a rather jolly-sounding term, mouse jiggling is serious stuff, so much so, that people have lost their jobs over it. A US company dismissed employees after a review of allegations involving simulation of keyboard activity creating impression of active work.

What is a Mouse Jiggler

Mouse Jigglers are devices that keep a computer active by simulating mouse movement. Their prevalence increased during COVID- with ‘workfluencers’ often boasting on social media that it freed them from the confines of their offices with their employers believing them to be working.

Amazon currently sells Mouse Jigglers for less than £10 with free delivery, with them able to be delivered in less than 24 hours. They boast the devices as being ‘undetectable’.

Some settings on computer aps require the detection of movement or a computer to stay awake (Teams being one example, to maintain the ‘green’ status). One bold reviewer gave it 5 stars commenting: ‘A great product for those of your working from home and wanting to look like you are still at your desk when you’re not’(sic).

It’s all about trust

Well, trust and output- the remote working pioneers will have us all believing that provided we trust our employees and measure their output, everyone will be happy with the new world of remote working.

Anyone daring to say the arrangement either doesn’t work for their business or seeking to criticise, is in the darker corners of the web sometimes subject to harassment, trolling and cancellation. How out of touch must you be to expect that your employees must attend a physical workplace?

However, human nature and history tells us that people are all individuals and are very different and as such remote working or positions of trust do not work for everyone.

What happened?

Wells Fargo, a US bank has confirmed that a number of employees had been fired or resigned for the offence of utilising Mouse Jigglers to pretend to work. GB news has reported more than a dozen employees were in fact fired.

Would this be gross misconduct in the UK?

Utilising a device to simulate activity to avoid undertaking work would likely be capable of being classed as gross misconduct and therefore something that an employee could be dismissed for.

Remote working is an exercise in trust, and it would reasonably be considered a breach of trust to behave in a way that concealed the true activities during the working day.

Is it really a management problem?

A key defence provided by employees in these situations is, ‘it’s not my fault I am so productive I have lots of the working day left, why can’t I take the benefit of that’?

Or ‘It’s not my fault my manager hasn’t managed me well enough to know that I am not being used to my full capacity’.

Thankfully, in the workplace we are managing adults and not children. Adults are expected to be honest with their employer and in most cases contracts of employment will set out that there is a contractual expectation that someone devotes their entire working hours to the business of the employer. There is also a reasonable expectation in the relationship of trust and confidence that an employee informs their employer if they have significant capacity, rather than taking advantage of it and utilising their time (which has been paid for by their employer) to do personal tasks or leisure activities.

It is certainly a red flag that a manager’s skills may need work, but that does not give a licence to an employee to abuse the trust that has been placed in them. It could certainly be a trigger to consider whether as many roles as the business has in operation are in fact needed and the efficiencies that a staff member has demonstrated could produce a business case for redundancies or to show that targets can be lifted.

Are you ready to become your workplace Hroe?

As we navigate the complexities of remote work and the trust it demands, it’s clear that tools like Mouse Jigglers reveal deeper issues about employee engagement and management oversight. If you’re an HR manager seeking to enhance your remote team’s performance, contact our award-winning employment lawyers, advisors, and trainers for a free consultation.

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