Home working: Fife firm’s new invention could help staff keep bosses off their backs
A Fife start-up business has tapped into the rise in working from home by developing an innovative device - a motion simulator which mimics mouse movements that could help keep bosses off your back!
The Wee Shoogle aims to help people achieve a work-life balance without feeling the pressure that they need to be online 24/7 to be seen to be productive.
The brainchild of Mark Magnante who runs the Aberdour based company of the same name, it prevents users having to log back into their computer multiple times, stops screensavers kicking in during online meetings, and enables overnight rendering of large files.
And it also keeps a green “available” status on communication tools like Microsoft Teams and Outlook … even when the user is away from their desk.
Mark, whose background lies in IT and digital media production, got the idea while working in open plan offices in the public sector.
He said: “I would be speaking to colleagues and they would turn round and shake their mouse, as they knew their online statuses were being monitored.
“I realised there was an issue around people who felt the stress and pressure of being seen as ‘inactive’ by colleagues and managers.”
The rise of home working has exacerbated these issues around monitoring.
Research has shown that tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams report when an employee is ‘active’, and failure to open these apps first thing in the morning is often taken by managers as the same as being late for work.
Mark said: “While this is a helpful tool for bosses trying to keep track of their employees, it’s also the enemy of workers who are trying to work from home whilst balancing the challenges of home life at the same time”.
The Wee Shoogle – the name came from a colleague saying they needed to give their mouse “a wee shoogle” – is a mechanical mouse mover, so there’s no software to install making it completely undetectable - and it can be set up in seconds.
It is compatible with PCs and Macs.
Mark started to develop it in his spare time, building prototypes until he created a unit that worked with all different types of mouse devices.
After finding manufacturing in the UK too expensive, he turned to China for production.
Just as he was ready to go to market with manufacturing, marketing, branding and packaging solutions all organised, Brexit, combined with the impact of Covid on travel- threw a spanner in the works, resulting in rising transport costs and customs delays.
Mark explains: “Initially it was only going to cost 90p per unit and a few days to fly the Wee Shoogle from China.
“The cancellation of commercial flights from China meant I had to look at shipping instead – but shipping fees have gone up ten fold in that time.
“It is now costing £6 per unit to transport them from China – a cost I have to absorb myself – and they are then sitting for months in customs waiting to be checked.”
Mark is slowly building up sales through his own e-shop and an online presence on Amazon.
Gamers are also using the Wee Shoogle to stop screensavers or their PCs sleep mode kicking in and losing all their progress data.