Career Expert Shares 5 'Cheat Codes' To Do Less While Working Remotely — Without Your Boss Noticing

Reclaim more of your time — or just slack off — while making your time on the clock work for you, not against you.

woman working remotely Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels; Canva Pro

Work-life balance is a neverending struggle for all too many of us, which is part of the allure of working remotely in the first place: It gives you more control.

But one expert says there are ways to get even more freedom out of your work-from-home scenario, without the powers that be knowing about it.

The career expert shared 5 'problematic' tips on how to do less while working remotely without your boss noticing.

The benefits of working remotely are obvious; it saves you tons of time and money on commuting costs, avoids all the constant interruptions that come with office environments, and gives you more leverage over your own time.


That work-life balance is key to remote work's allure — as well as to the resistance many professionals have shown to companies' return-to-office mandates. But career expert and TikToker Courtney Johnson says there are five ways you can squeeze even more freedom out of remote work schemes.



Her "problematic cheat codes," as she calls them, ultimately come down to the new approach to work that has especially been embraced by young, Gen Z professionals: erecting firm boundaries over how big a role work plays in your everyday life, and reclaiming your time — or even slacking off — accordingly.


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1. Stop working 8 hours every day

"Problematic cheat code" number one is simple: Take all that time that used to be wasted with interruptions in the office and build it into your remote workday, too.

"Working eight hours a day… is completely unnecessary," Johnson said. "Think of all the time you spent in an office, like [messing] around. Incorporate that into your day." It's only fair, right?



2. Work from fancy hotel lobbies and other similar locations

Johnson said working from locations like this offers "a good vibe," but it also provides important dynamics that are missing from remote and work-from-home positions, the opportunity to interact with others.


Not only are these interactions genuinely important for your mental health, but a recent study showed that missing out on those opportunities for mentorship and enrichment is one of the few very real detriments to working from home, especially for young professionals early in their careers. 

Johnson said these interactions in places like hotel lobbies also provide opportunities for another thing people miss out on when working remotely: networking, which is proving to be key in finding that next career opportunity. 

3. Stay visible throughout the day so you don't get assigned more work

Listen, she said these cheat codes were "problematic"! Whether or not you implement this part of Johnson's tips depends on your goals, of course. 

But as more and more people get blindsided by things like layoffs and the increasingly dehumanizing job search process, more and more people are awakening to the simple truth that at most companies, workers are just cogs in a machine or numbers on a spreadsheet.




Johnson is among those who say you should treat your job the same way. She suggested that you "make yourself visible at least one time per day" whether you're actually busy or not, by sending updates on messaging services or by email.

Why? It's all about optics and avoiding a heavier workload. "This way it always looks like you're getting something done," she said, "and you're not going to get more work on your plate." 

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4. Focus on actual output and never on the time you spend

This one goes hand-in-hand with number three. Johnson said to maintain control over your remote work scheme, adding, "your output is way more important than your actual time spent when giving updates."



Making everything about the time you've spent doing your job can easily arouse suspicion that you either can't handle your workload or that you're embellishing things to cover up how much you're slacking. "Give updates on results," Johnson said, rather than "the reps you're putting in."

5. Always use a virtual background during online meetings

"It is not your company's business where you are, what your house looks like," Johnson said. Maintaining your privacy is key to letting a remote scheme work best for you. Again, this is all about work-life balance and boundaries.




This step is especially crucial if you're the type who likes to travel or be a "digital nomad." "If you're traveling," Johnson said, "they will look down upon you," no matter what their policy might be.

So, she said, don't even give them the ammunition. "If you're a digital nomad or if you're traveling a lot, do not let people know where you are. Be mysterious." Even if you're not traveling the world, that's solid advice for anyone looking to maintain a separation between work and their actual life. 

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and, human interest topics.