Caught Red-Handed: Wells Fargo’s Remote Workers Caught ‘Fake Working

As more workplaces begin monitoring their workers, some employees are using modern strategies to “fake work” when their bosses can’t see them – including more than a dozen Wells Fargo workers.

A Dozen People Fired

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Multinational banking and investment firm Wells Fargo fired over a dozen employees last month, following internal investigations that found some employees were “fake working,” according to Bloomberg.

Fake Keyboard Activity

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Reports on the investigation showed that the employees involved were faking keyboard activity to give management the impression that they were working when they were not.

Some Details Still Unclear

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Details are still murky, with the work location of these employees still unknown. The exact methods or software they used to simulate work activity is also yet to be determined.

Remote Work Inspections

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While the location is unknown, it is likely these employees were working remotely. All brokers working remotely in the US are now required to undergo work inspections every three years based on new industry rules.

Hybrid Working Model

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In particular, Wells Fargo introduced a hybrid working model that saw employees moving back and forth between the office and home during the month, after almost two years of working remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Three Office Days

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They were one of the last major finance firms to call employees back to the office. Since then, most employees have worked just three days in-office, with others working 4 or 5 depending on their position.

Wealth and Investment Management Workers

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Every single employee affected was working in the wealth and investment management department. They were discharged from their positions on May 8th, with some being fired and others choosing to resign.

Filed With the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

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The company filed the incidents with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, confirming the review as well as “allegations involving simulation of keyboard activity creating the impression of active work,” according to documents.

They Don’t Tolerate “Unethical Behavior”

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A representative for Wells Fargo, Laurie W. Kight, responded on behalf of the firm, saying: “Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards and does not tolerate unethical behavior.”

Mouse Jiggers

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Reports have speculated that the employees may have used a “mouse jigger” – a tool that is used to move a computer cursor in random patterns, making sure that the screen remains activated. It can be bought as an external device or downloadable software.

Managers Overlooking

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These and similar products skyrocketed in popularity during the pandemic as millions of people began working from home under the monitoring of managers and office software designed to ensure they were active on their computers during work hours.

More Accessible Equipment

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Now, these mouse jiggers are even more sophisticated and more accessible. They can be purchased for as little as $10 to $20 on Amazon.

Companies Spying on Employees

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Employees using evasive equipment to shy away from work is a direct response to companies that are now spying on their remote workers to ensure they are keeping up with their expected workload.

Some Lawmakers Concerned

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Some lawmakers have tried to take action against employers who use devices and software to remotely “spy” on their employees, but with little advancement so far.

Stop Spying Bosses Act

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The “Stop Spying Bosses Act” was introduced to the House and Senate last year, and for a second time this year, with the aim to “protect and empower workers by creating transparency and guardrails for employers engaging in surveillance practices.” So far no further actions have been taken.

Growing Tension Between Employers and Employees

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While the official details are sparse, this case has shone a light on growing tension between employers and employees, who are becoming more detached from their work when they are not literally in the office.

Push Back to the Office

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It also highlights the tension between the growing call for hybrid work and the corporate push for a full-time return to offices, especially in the banking sector.

Stemming the Tide of Remote Work

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For the last few years, Wall Street has been trying to stem the post-Covid surge toward remote work, with financial institutions like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase being some of the most vocal anti-remote companies in the country.

A “Grave Mistake?”

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Early in 2021, when much of the country was still in quarantine, Goldman CEO David Solomon called remote work an “aberration,” and Citadel founder Ken Griffin described it as a “grave mistake” that was hurting the nation.

Remote Work Halved

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According to research from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México Business School, Stanford, and the University of Chicago, only 27% of paid work days in the US were for remote work, compared to over 60% during the height of the pandemic.

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The post Caught Red-Handed: Wells Fargo’s Remote Workers Caught ‘Fake Working’ first appeared on Thrift My Life.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.