Every now and then you get a story pitch that just makes you laugh. Not because it's a bad idea, just because it's funny.
I just got one via e-mail for a product supposedly designed to improve workplace efficiency.
Introducing the Cube Guard (I'll pause here so you can click the link and check it out).
OK, thanks for coming back. The e-mail I got included a press release touting the virtues of the Cube Guard:
"Until now, there has been no effective way to prevent interruptions while working on important tasks. ... This fun yet functional new communication tool lets workers prevent productivity interruptions before they start by sharing a colorfully direct message like 'DO NOT DISTURB' or 'GO AWAY' to ward off unwanted interruptions from co-workers."
All right, I have some questions:
First question: You say the Cube Guard will keep people from interrupting you while you work. But what about all the people who will undoubtedly stop by your cubicle to comment on your new decoration and its "colorfully direct message"? I foresee a series of questions. You're looking at two minutes of conversation at a minimum.
"Whoa, what's this?"
"Is this for real?"
"Where'd ya get it?"
"So have people been interrupting you?"
"Who is it?"
"Is it me?"
"Seriously, is it me?"
"Anyway, I came over to tell you ..."
That's just the first day, probably repeated several times. But once people get the idea, they're still going to poke fun.
"Hey, Foster's put up his Cube Guard again."
"Are we bothering you, Foster?"
Of course, you'll have to address this with a grin at the least (probably several grins, actually) and may have to make a brief self-deprecating joke. Still, it'll be 30 seconds of your day. Gone. Wasted.
Second question: Will the Cube Guard work with bosses? Certainly they'll stay away in reverence to efficiency, right?
"Hey, Foster. I've got something I need you to do. It's a story about ..."
"Sorry, boss, can't talk. Just trying to work smarter. Didn't you notice the colorfully direct message?"
If that doesn't work, tell the boss you're just doing your part to help the economy. Unnecessary interruptions cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars every year, according to the Cube Guard press release. Your devotion to company and country will be appreciated, I'm sure.
I mean no disrespect to the Cube Guard, which I'm sure is a fine product. I just get all these images and scenarios in my head that would make for good subplots if they ever make an "Office Space 2."
The press release includes comments from someone named Adam Wilson, one of the Cube Guard's early testers. He claims it's worked wonders.
"It turns away all those time-hogs that lurk at your cube and suck your time away," he says. "I'm saved from them at least five or ten times a day."
Also included is a Web site where companies can calculate how much money they'll save if they use the Cube Guard and have more efficient workers.
So maybe this thing will catch on and help turn the economy around.
If anyone out there buys one of these, please let me know if your efficiency gets a boost.
And if you're wondering who Les Nessman is, here you go.