How to Make It Look Like You Are Working From Home When You Are Away

I have been working from home for several years now, and there is nothing more enjoyable than being able to do the laundry and get the job done instead of wasting precious evening hours doing housework. This is the best side of the coronavirus – the hope that maybe maybe some companies will loosen their anti-WFH policies a bit and allow employees to take advantage of the added productivity (and the world’s easiest commute).

Of course, you can also take advantage of the benefits of working from home, well, well, not a lot of work. It’s not the most ethical thing to do, but I’m not here to judge. Maybe you’ve spent a lot of time at work and want to carve out some time for yourself. Maybe you’re just lazy, or it’s a good day outside and you want to take advantage of it. Whatever the reason, hiding the bum is not hard.

Don’t let yourself be idle

Depending on which apps you use to communicate with your coworkers – say Slack – they might somehow register you as inactive when you’re out of your workplace (for whatever reason). If you’re planning a short trip to the grocery store or an afternoon watching a movie and don’t want to be annoyed by any of the apps you use, you need to find a way to make things look like you’re at your table.

Caffeinated is a great tool you can use to keep your monitor on when you are away from your desktop, and it might be all you have to do, as long as you keep whatever app you use in focus as well. If you need to complement this with a little mouse movement , something like Auto Mouse Mover or Move Mouse might work. You can also look to see if the applications you are using have special third-party utilities that can help you look present, such as the marvelously named Slackoff or Slack Presence .

You can also be a total badass and put your mouse pointer on your wristwatch .

Let your computer “start its day” while you sleep

So funny. You should be able to automatically turn on your computer at a specific time every day – at least most computers should have this setting somewhere in their BIOS. If so, set it up for the start of the work day, or even a few minutes before it, and let all the applications your team uses to communicate start when the operating system starts. On Windows, use Task Scheduler to install this or leave application shortcuts in the Startup folder ; on macOS, you may have the Open at Login application. (You will also want to configure your system to log in automatically .)

Combine this with an app like Caffeine or one of the aforementioned mouse manipulators and you can relax a bit while everyone else sees you active, online and “working”.

Think about how you react across platforms

I really like this tip from Brian Feldman of Intelligencer, in which he describes the importance of thinking about how you actually type . Yes, you probably have a different conversation when sitting at your desktop or laptop at work than when you are on the phone, “working” from afar. You need to merge these two worlds so that no one can tell where you are when you suddenly become a punctuation champion at random times of the day.

As Feldman writes:

“For example – hypothetically, not to mention that I did it, and obviously I will never do it, because I am a good employee who is always working and focused – say, it is easier to get Trader Joe to run in the middle of the day when in store less people. So you, this hypothetical person, take a dip for maybe 45 minutes for a snack and all. But you want to make it seem like you’re still participating in Slack, so you check out the mobile app and keep participating as if you’re in a group text. Again, I personally have never done this, and I am revolted by this innuendo.

The problem is your phone keeps capitalizing words. Everyone who receives your messages knows immediately that you have moved away from your computer. This is why it is so important to develop the habit of not correcting typos on your phone and, in some cases, actively making mistakes. ”

It’s great, and even I probably wouldn’t have thought about sending Slack responses to my phone. While it also takes a somewhat sharp-sighted colleague (or boss) to notice a change in your conversation, why take the risk? Speak like a teenager everywhere, and no one will get wiser.

Get Rid Of A Horrible Work Clutter From Home During Video Calls

You are called to a video conference, but you do not want your colleagues to see the remains of the party you threw last night. Or maybe you have a dirty AF, or you are throwing a party you plan to attend by accidentally checking “work” on your laptop.

Whatever the reason, it never hurts to turn off the background during a video call. If your webcam cannot do this automatically (and in most cases it does not), you have a variety of software solutions. Chromacam is a great option, as is the XSplit VCamboth versions unfortunately cost money. Zoom has a Virtual Background feature that you can turn on in its settings if your team uses this application for chatting. You might even be able to use Streamlabs OBS to remove the background from your webcam feed and send it to another app like Skype. I haven’t experimented with this, but it’s worth exploring.

Customize device notifications for your team’s critical apps

It goes without saying that the best way to work from home – and not work at your desk – is to make sure you’ve installed mobile apps for whatever services your team uses. And once you’ve done that, make sure you’re getting notifications on your smartphone or tablet in addition to (or replacing) any you would otherwise receive on your desktop or laptop.

Right now, I’m mostly thinking about a handy Slack notification setting that checks your device when you’re inactive for a moment (or a few minutes). You can also receive emails when you receive mentions or direct messages, in case you are concerned about it.

However you set them up, make sure you have some way to check in and answer questions when you mess around; If a colleague has to wait an hour for an answer when you are “at your desk,” he or she will suspect something – unless you install a smart message “in a meeting” or “at lunch” on something on the communication platform you are using.

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