The New York Times podcast The Daily recently did a story called “The Rise of Workplace Surveillance,” which provided a deep dive into the ways in which companies are remotely monitoring the productivity of employees. Unsurprisingly, some of this monitoring is intrusive and unfair — the tracking systems often penalize workers when they are actually working, because they are incapable of counting work done out of the view of the screen or offline. The New York Times explains:
Across many industries, technology is giving employers a means to electronically gauge what their workers are doing — a fundamental change in workplace practice.
A Times investigation has found that such tracking software is unexpectedly common, with the information used to make decisions about when and how much employees get paid.
It was fascinating to hear about how we are all being monitored. But one of the most interesting things I learned from the podcast is how employees are resisting these monitoring systems, and once again it seems like TikTok is playing a role in cultural change. Folks on TikTok have been sharing information about a product called a “mouse jiggler” — it’s a little cradle that you plug into the wall and set your mouse on top of, and it moves your mouse so you can appear to be productive even if you’re away from your computer or not actively using the keyboard. Folks on TikTok are also sharing info about USB dongles that you can plug you’re your computer to ensure your computer never falls asleep because it moves your mouse one pixel every few seconds. There are also folks who go even further to help, like TikTok user Nanobytesinc, who says you don’t even need to buy a mouse jiggler; instead, for free, you can write a few lines of code and achieve the same effect. I sometimes know that humans, the internet, and humans on the internet, are cesspools of awful, but it’s things like this that restore my faith in humanity!