J003-Content-When-Users-Bring-Their-Bad-Habits-To-Work_SQWhen observing users do something silly at work with their computers or other IT gear, I used to ask them: “You wouldn’t do that to your own stuff at home, would you?” Unfortunately, far too often the answer to that question would be “YES.” That’s when I realized that rather than counting on users to respect corporate IT as if they personally owned it, I needed to get them to respect the gear they actually own so those habits would then flow back to the corporate gear. It seems like a circuitous path to take, but it works well for the gear at work, and we get a lot fewer requests to fix things from home now, so we’re going with it. In case that approach could help you as well, I wanted to share the top bad habits users bring from home and what you can do to stop that.

There’s a time and a place for everything, but office hours are not the time, and work is definitely NOT the place!

Whether you use web filtering or provide unfettered Internet and just hope for the best, far too many users will get into a habit of going to certain websites or doing certain things online at home, and then not even think about doing the same thing at work. Whether this just leads to several hours lost to the time sinkhole that is Facebook, or needs to involve HR because someone’s sensibilities were offended, making sure users know what is and IS NOT appropriate both at work, and on work equipment, is critical.

Shutting down versus turning off

One thing I see far too many users doing, on far too many occasions, is just holding in the power switch until the computer shuts off. No shutdown, no sleep, no hibernate… just a hard power off. Lost data, corrupted files, and unhappy operating systems are the end result, and it’s a habit you really want them to break both at home and at work.

Turning off versus leaving on

The other side of that coin of course is all the monitors that are left on at the end of the day, with their little “No Signal” rainbows floating back and forth across the screen. Teach them to turn off the monitors on their way out the door to save power and prolong the lifespan of all those flatscreens.

Pulling the plug is the last resort

Yes, sometimes you really do need to pull the plug on a printer, copier, access point, or PC, but that should be seen as a last resort, not as the first quick fix. Printers in particular can get very unhappy when they lose power suddenly, and the call to pull the plug should be left to the pros.

Walking away from an active session

We have screen saver timeouts and lock screens for a reason…to protect against inappropriate access. But if we set that value to low, people will complain. Too high, and we find dozens of unlocked workstations around lunchtime. Make sure your users know to lock their systems when they walk away from their desks.

Clean desks

At home, they may not need to keep anything private from their other family members, but at work, there is plenty of reason to protect sensitive corporate and customer data. Printouts can be just as revealing as databases, and it’s far easier for someone to see something they should not when it is left laying out…and in these instancesthere’s no access log. Make sure users know to put hard copies away when they are not using them to help keep data secure.

Keeping air vents clear

I cringe every time I see papers, folders and other desk paraphernalia stacked up between a PC and the wall or cubicle partition, completely cutting off the airflow that helps keep the computer cool. Make sure users know the importance of keeping all the vents clear, and to call the help desk if they notice a computer getting too warm, or a fan making noises, so that someone can come blast the dust from the fan blades before the system overheats and dies.

Leave percussive maintenance to the Fonz

The Fonz was a character on the US television show “Happy Days,” who could, with a judicious smack of his fist (or hip), make jukeboxes play, drink machines dispense, and stalled motors start. Today, it seems everyone thinks a malfunctioning machine just needs a good smack in order to fix whatever ails it. Tell your users that PC abuse is a crime, and that a soft word can be much more productive than a fist, especially when that soft word is over the phone to helpdesk.

Do you see your users bringing any bad habits from home to work? If you do, leave a comment below and let us know what irks you the most, and how you handle it. We want to hear from you!