- More people are working from home than ever before due to the
- That has created tension between managers concerned about
productivity suffering and workers who are urged — or even
required — to always be at their computer.
Lurk From Home aims to
fix that problem by letting people take breaks without appearing
offline by tricking programs like Microsoft Teams and Slack into
thinking they’re still working.
- But he says his goal is actually to improve people’s
productivity by allowing them to release stress and maintain better
Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of people around
the world to
work from home full time — many for the first time in their
lives — and the transition hasn’t always been seamless.
By now, we’ve all seen plenty of horror stories about
Zoom calls gone wrong, kids interrupting at the
worst possible moments, and the difficulties of staying
productive while also
maintaining your mental health.
Research shows that a big part of that means
taking breaks to parent, eat, or just get some fresh air and
give your mind a chance to refocus.
But some workers haven’t felt able to do that, either because of
demanding employers and managers who are concerned about
productivity suffering — or simply because employees don’t want
to give coworkers the impression they’re slacking off.
In-person workplaces allow your bosses and colleagues to see
when you’re on the job, but now many companies have become reliant
on tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack to determine when someone’s
“at their desk.” Some have even turned to VPNs and webcams to
constantly monitor employees throughout the day.
That’s increased stress levels for some employees — but it
also inspired Rehaan Adatia, a consultant at KPMG, and Haris Akbar,
a post-doctoral fellow at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, to find a way to
help work-from-homers reclaim some control over their schedule.
“We were seeing an uptick in these micro-managing initiatives
taken up by managers to really check in a little bit further on
their employees,” Adatia told Business Insider, adding that a
survey they sent around online confirmed that others were having
difficulties taking breaks without prompting questions from
managers or judgment from coworkers.
So, they built Lurk From
Home, a tool that tricks work chats and productivity monitoring
software into thinking someone’s still at their computer by using a
Java plugin to intermittently move the mouse or play a media clip
in the background to keep their screen active.
It’s invisible to the human eye, but Adatia told Business
Insider it’s enough to trigger activity logs for Slack, Cisco
Jabber, and Microsoft’s Teams, Skype for Business, and Lync, as
well as VPNs that may track what workers are up to throughout the
From hardware hack to software for hard workers
Adatia said he and Akbar didn’t build Lurk For Home just to
enable people to be lazy, and he’s mindful of companies that might
perceive it that way and try to block their tool.
“I can see why the perception would be that this is more of a
laid-back tool,” Adatia said, “but we believe that this gives our
users peace of mind and that actually helps them inversely perform
better when they’re at their desk.”
Adatia said the original idea for Lurk From Home came about
years earlier during a part-time internship he had one summer that
let him work remotely, but also gave him tasks that didn’t take the
entire week to complete.
“I had basically figured out how to automate all of my work,” he
said, but was still worried that efficiency may be perceived as
laziness if he wasn’t available on his work chat.
Adatia’s solution at that point was to open a blank document on
his laptop, place a coffee mug on his keyboard, and clamp the lid
down so it kept typing, making his work chat think he was
Lurk From Home may be a slightly more high-tech hack, but as
more companies encourage remote work moving forward, Adatia said
tools like it will become even more essential.
That’s why he and Akbar are now building additional features to
encourage productivity and make working from home less isolating,
like reminders to take breaks and ways to connect with coworkers
and network, Adatia said. While Lurk From home is currently a free
tool, he hopes the additional functionality is something employers
might pay for.
“Long term, I think our goal is to develop an entire suite of
different tools for those working from home, not specifically just
related to productivity,” he said.
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Source: FS – All – Interesting – Lifestyle
This work-from-home tool lets you take a real break while
tricking your micro-managing boss and judging coworkers into
thinking you're still at the keyboard