Do you use these common WFH white lies?

On average, 83% of respondents to a new survey admitted to telling these white lies.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

Oh shoot, I wrote you a reply yesterday but left it in my drafts folder!


Uh-huh, sure you did buddy. Little white lies are nothing new at work, but our collective WFH experiment has afforded the fraudster in all of us a whole new opportunity to play the angles and shirk a little responsibility. From connectivity issues to malfunctioning computers, this year is seeing a healthy crop of technology-blaming chestnuts, the end result being more pajama time and a new normal when it comes to workday expectations.

A team at JobList.com, which helps candidates find new jobs, conducted a survey of 958 people who are among the 60% of Americans currently working remotely. The objective was to identify common work-from-home practices, and the survey turned up plenty of those. But the real gems are the little lies that a surprisingly high number of respondents admitted to telling their colleagues or bosses. In an age that seems intent on assaulting truth, the plugged-in workers of America are doing their part.

First, the top line results. A whopping 83% of employees surveyed admitted to telling a lie while working from home. Images of underlings covering their butts might come to mind, but it turns out that lying rises proportional to status, at least as a percentage of the population. The most likely to use little lies were executives (92%), managers (90%), and junior-level employees (79%). One in three of these liars acknowledged having been caught telling WFH lies at some point.

Of course, theses aren't exactly capital crimes, but it's interesting to see just how pervasive the little excuses we trot out are. Common lies include workers assuring colleagues they're working on a project when they haven't started (45%), fabricating connectivity to get out of meetings (40%), and using technology as an excuse not to enable their camera in a meeting (37%). About a third admitted to lying about being busy or on another line in order to avoid a call or meeting.

You know that engaged, nodding, smiling face we see across from us on a Zoom? A third of respondents admitted pretending to pay attention in a meeting while doing other things.

Now, naturally some of the liars get their comeuppance. Most likely to get caught were people who blamed technology for not turning on their camera (it had happened to about half of respondents). 

These are all pretty mild lies, truth be told, but it's important for employers and employees both to recognize the origin. Zoom meetings are exhausting, and there can be something mildly unnerving about being accessible to your colleagues while in the supposed safe space of your own home. Lying probably isn't the right way to address the friction of WFH, but for now, it's nice to know we're not alone.

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