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Let's talk about something boring as hell and spice it up a little bit today at the Capitalist...

Boring Topic- You've got a policy that employees must secure their desktops or laptops if they leave their workstations.  Maybe it's tied to HIPPA or PCI compliance, but the gist of the policy is that employees have to lock their computer when they leave their workstation, otherwise bad stuff can happen regarding data and systems security.

Crushing Reality - Employees don't care about your needs in this area, and their attention to detail isStolen_laptop certainly not helped by that 60-page document you call a policy.  Bottom line, no one cares, and you can't make them care.

What You Could Do to Get What You Need- Unleash the pranksters like the folks below did.  Here's the breakdown: A management consulting firm I'm familiar with in the midwest had the following occur naturally related to unlocked workstations.  Every time someone left their workstation unlocked, some enterprising teammate would take control of the workstation and send out an embarrassing email to the rest of the employee base - from the offending person's email account.

Here's a flavor of what happened to one person who couldn't remember to lock his work station.  Manager of 7 people in a project management group of 50 FTE's.  Of course, names have been changed to protect the guilty.


The first one that went out:

From: Sackett, Bob
Sent: January 11, 2010 8:39 AM
To: DL - Everyone
Subject: Some Guidelines for 2010
From now on, I want everyone to follow a few rules to help us hit on all cylinders in 2010:
1.    You must call me “Kemosabe”
2.    High fives when things are going well
3.    Make “rub your eye” motions when things are not
4.    Haircuts every Thursday, I’ll pay
5.    Teambuilding in the Best Buy parking lot, BYOB
6.    Hugs will be our primary means of communication
Looking forward to a good year.



Bob didn't learn his lesson, so the next time he left the workstation unlocked, this went out under his account:

From: Sackett, Bob
Sent: January 27, 2010 8:40 AM
To: DL - Everyone
Subject: Thinking About Our Potential
I hope everyone had a sensational holiday. Mine was great, and I am so full of optimism for 2010. I would even go so far as to say that I have deep feelings for you all. Real deep. Sometimes I feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I think about you all. I would like to express those feelings through the following poem:
Leaves in the fall
Pork chops in the oven
Teddy bear smiles
Aroma of the gym
These are the things that make me smile a mile
You all complete me, stop by my house any time for hugs and maybe we can hang out and talk about women's clothes or something.



It took one more email via the original pranksters before Bob never again left his workstation without locking it:

From: Sackett, Bob
Sent: February 16, 2010 8:52 AM
To: DL - Everyone
Subject: On the road, But Still Thinking
Since I have been in California, I have been spending a lot of time in deep thought. I have needed an outlet for my emotions for some time now, and have turned to poetry for that outlet. Please accept my offering below:
Rain, gently on my face
Pitter patter
Pitter patter
Funny clown
My pants are tight



What can I tell you?  You want compliance?  You want respect?  Sometimes you've got to unleash the goons. On a related note, after approximately 9 of these emails went out to the entire employee base of a 10,000 person company, compliance related to locking workstations has never been higher.

Sometimes you've got to let the free market work its magic and do what governance can't.  Adam Smith would be proud.


Drew Hawkins

Another fun one? Mess with the auto-correct on their Word program. Like changing simple yet commonly used words to something similar looking yet WAY off. Used to do that to my college roommate back in the day.


This is an interesting way to get employees to lock up their computers. I bet it worked though.


Josh Diamand

Nothing like encouraging 'pranksters' to send out emails impersonating a fellow employee to encourage the importance of security. That's no way to gain respect. Any good policy wouldn't permit other employees to engage in the kind of behavior that the policy aims to prevent or protect against.

Free market Adam Smith references seem out of place.

Evil HR Lady

I think that is hilarious. I'm all in favor. Although, I do, on principle, oppose bad poetry.


We do this with blackberry's and phones at my work place. It started by changing the default language and quickly escalate to people using auto replace for "I". So when you type an e-mail from your blackberry and you mean to say "I will follow up with you." it would type for example "I, supreme ruler of all things stupid, will follow-up with you." Now we all guard our blackberrys with our lives! :-)


Love it!

Try, ctrl-alt down arrow when someone's work station isn't locked. It will flip your screen - guaranteed your help desk will not know how to fix it (ctrl-alt up arrow). First question they will ask if your monitor is upside down.


I've found that changing the offender's background to that of their most hated rival (i.e. Alabama fan suddenly has an Auburn background) can be effective. If that doesn't work, I second ZZZ's comment. Genius.

This is hysterical. We've been doing this in my family when someone leaves their facebook account open. Thanks for giving me a laugh on this cloudy Monday!

Account Deleted

Hi I saw this now and couldn't stop laughing till tears streamed down :)

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