Busy work, meet the buddy system

This IT consulting outfit doesn't just expect its unassigned consultants to show up for regular working hours -- their fingers had better be moving too, reports a pilot fish who's been there.

"We were supposed to be logged in, for the whole eight hours, to the company's online virtual reality portal," says fish. "It automatically logs you out if you're idle for 15 minutes, and bosses are watching to see who's shown as logged in and available.

"This meant I kept getting logged out and shown as 'idle' when I indulged in distractions like, you know, calling prospective clients or teaming partners, or going out to visit them.

"After I got dinged for it by management several times, a kindly colleague explained a useful trick: If you're on at least one active chat with another colleague at the company, the system considers you active.

"So you and a buddy can arrange to start a chat and then do other things. Turns out the system doesn't check how often you post to the chat.

"I don't know how many years that went on before management caught on -- if they ever did. Needless to say, I'm long gone."

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