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All the things that happened in 2020 has changed a lot of people’s perspectives on work. We were given options that we were previously informed didn’t exist – namely the ability to work exclusively from home – and more than a few of us would like to know why those options are going to extend past the end of the pandemic.

If, you know. It ever ends.

This woman’s employer did some restructuring when it was time to call people back to work, deciding whether people would need to be in person, hybrid, or full tie work from home employees on a permanent basis.

She was really hoping, for an array of reasons, to be listed among the last group.

As part of the plan to return to office post covid, my company has done a lot of re-designating of who can permanently work from home, who can hybrid, etc. I really wanted to work from home full time. I hate the office with a burning passion – it’s distracting, it’s a long commute, there’s no benefit to being there, so on and so forth. I’d just rather be at home.

When the lists came out, though, she was put with the group who needed to come back into the office full time.

Since she didn’t think this made much sense given her history with the company, she spoke with her manager and learned it was all because she went “idle” too often in their group chat.

Well when we thought May was going to be go back to office time they started giving out the new designations. I got designated as in office full time. It made no sense to me. I work on a team of 8 people and each of us is in a different office somewhere in the country. I’ve literally never been to an in person meeting or needed to do in person work in 3 years at this company. Every single other person on my team got designated to work from home.

So I brought it up with my boss and asked to work from home. When I started at this company and lived elsewhere I got to work from home for 4 months before I moved and the past 14 months during covid have been at home, so 18/36 months at the company have been WFH. What I was told is that I go idle too often in chat to trust to work from home.

This happens when you don’t touch your keyboard for 5 minutes straight, but as she points out – like we all didn’t know this already – there’s typically not 8 hours worth of work to do in an 8-hour workday.

Basically we have a company wide IM system that shows you as available, idle, or in a meeting. If you don’t touch your keyboard for 5 minutes you show as idle. So they’ve decided to use this as a measure for who is working and who isn’t. The thing is, like many people in many types of jobs, I don’t have shit to do for a full 8 hours every single day. The amount of work I have to do on a typical day takes 3-5 hours of actual attention. There simply isn’t something to do ALL the time.

Her performance evaluations and honestly, her use of time, have both improved while she’s worked from home, but that didn’t matter.

Just the chat.

My performance numbers actually went up working from home, by all objective KPI numbers I’m a better worker at home. In fact, in the KPIs that I don’t flat out lead the team in, I come in second. There isn’t work to do that I’m neglecting or procrastinating, when something comes up I simply do it until it’s done or until I can’t do anymore due to waiting on someone else then stop. And I’ve done that method long enough that my work queue stays empty because I worked to get my queue down to the point where when something comes up I can immediately address it and be done with it.

But because I have other ways to spend my time in down time instead of messing around online at my cube pretending to be working meaning I show idle more often, I’m a worse worker apparently. I was told if it weren’t for that they would let me work at home.

And so she fixed it quite simply.

So I wrote a 6 line powershell script that virtually inputs the period key every 4 minutes that starts running every day at 8am and stops at 5pm. So now I literally never go idle. I do the same amount of work and still read books, watch tv, and play video games on the side. But I have a shiny green check next to my name all day.

The next time the company looked at having employees come back into the office, they decided she could stay at home.

Because she was obviously working now.

Because of covid complications they eventually said no going back until after labor day. I just had a meeting with my boss and he said over this time they’ve noticed I go idle a lot less than I used to so they’re changing my designation to work from home, all because of a little icon in some software.

This concludes my TED talk on why low to middle level managers are the dumbest, most useless do-nothing positions in all of corporate America.

If you’re curious, here’s the code.

A lot of people are understandably asking for the script:

$dummyshell = New-Object -com "Wscript.shell"
$dummyshell.sendkeys(".")

That’s the backbone of the whole thing. There’s different ways to implement it with for loops or scheduled tasks or whatever, that parts up to you, but that’s all the powershell needs at it’s core to accomplish this. A lot of people have pointed out that sending Insert or F13 instead of period would be better so change that up if you want.

You’re welcome.

Y’all, I hope you’re not working harder than you need to be for a company that would replace you in a hot minute if something were to happen.

Do your job, sure, but also realize your worth – both are important if you want to get the most out of life.


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