Bank employees fired after using technology to fake working from home 

In 2022, Wells Fargo, a major US banking institution, introduced a hybrid flexible working model allowing employees to work from home part-time.

However, the company recently terminated several employees amid allegations that they had simulated keyboard activity to mislead the company into believing they were working. The method of detecting this misconduct or its direct connection to remote work remains unclear.

Since the rise of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous large companies have adopted advanced tools to monitor employees. 

These tools can track keystrokes and eye movements, capture screenshots, and log website visits. Conversely, technology designed to counteract such surveillance, like “mouse jigglers” that simulate computer activity, has also become widely accessible. On Amazon, thousands of these devices, priced under $10, have been sold in the past month.

Wells Fargo stated that employees were fired or resigned “after review of allegations involving simulation of keyboard activity creating the impression of active work.” New US regulations now require that brokers working remotely be inspected every three years.

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo said: “Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards and does not tolerate unethical behavior.” 

Bloomberg, which first reported the incident based on Wells Fargo’s filing with the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, indicated that over a dozen employees were impacted, most of whom had been with the company for less than five years.

Many companies, particularly in the financial sector, are now encouraging employees to return to the office. Although remote work remains popular post-pandemic, it’s becoming less common. 

According to research by professors at ITAM Business School, Stanford, and the University of Chicago, remote work accounted for just under 27% of paid workdays last month, down from over 60% at the pandemic’s peak in 2020. As of this spring, about 13% of full-time US employees were fully remote, with another 26% enjoying a hybrid work arrangement.

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