Wells Fargo Fires Employees Using Mouse Jigglers to Fake Productivity

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Wells Fargo has recently terminated several employees following accusations that they used devices to fake keyboard activity, misleading the bank into believing they were working.

The disclosure was made in broker filings with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra).

The bank, America’s third-largest, did not provide details on how the issue was discovered or if it was linked to remote work arrangements. This action comes as new US regulations require offices used by brokers working from home to be inspected every three years.

“Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards and does not tolerate unethical behaviour,” stated spokeswoman Laurie Kight.

The rise of remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic has led many large companies to adopt sophisticated employee monitoring tools. These tools can track keystrokes, eye movements, take screenshots, and log website visits. In response, some employees have turned to technology to evade surveillance, such as “mouse jigglers,” which make computers appear to be in active use. These devices are readily available on platforms like Amazon, where thousands have been sold for under $10 in the past month.

Wells Fargo’s filings revealed that staff had resigned or been fired “after review of allegations involving simulation of keyboard activity creating impression of active work.” According to Bloomberg, which first reported the firings, over a dozen employees were affected. Business Matters confirmed six instances of dismissal and one voluntary resignation after confrontation with the allegations. Most of these employees had been with the firm for less than five years.

This crackdown on unethical behaviour coincides with a broader push within the financial industry to bring employees back to the office. While remote work remains popular, its prevalence has decreased since the height of the pandemic. Research by professors at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) Business School, Stanford, and the University of Chicago found that last month, under 27% of paid days were work-from-home days, down from over 60% in 2020. As of this spring, about 13% of full-time US employees were fully remote, with another 26% working in a hybrid arrangement.

In 2022, Wells Fargo announced it had adopted a hybrid flexible model for most of its employees, reflecting the ongoing evolution of workplace practices in the post-pandemic world.

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