10 Ridiculous Office Rules That Most Employees Think Shouldn’t Exist

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Some office rules go too far. From the most ridiculous office rules to the hardest one to decipher which is what does business casual code really means. But often, office rules, go beyond the clothes an employee should wear.

In some cases, companies try to control and regulate your diet, your speech, and many other things.

Read on to learn about some of the most ridiculous and strange office rules that actually exist. Here are 10 of the most ridiculous office rules, from the odd to the most annoying!


Only eating together

In her previous company, Chanty CMO Olga Mykhoparkina talks about dealing with one of the strangest office rules in the previous company she has worked on because co-workers could only eat lunch together.

She talks about the employees having a one-hour lunch break, and they all had to eat together in the office kitchen.

“It was a forced bonding experience, and even though it was supposed to be nice, it was just extremely awkward,” Mykhoparkina says.

“We stared at the ceiling and our plates in silence, mostly because my boss insisted on being there at all times, as well.”

Over time, Mykhoparkina and other employees skipped lunch just because they wanted to eat peacefully at home. However, it is a good business etiquette to accept the occasional lunch invites, even if you’re busy.


Required dancing

Peer pressure in the office can be one of the sneaky sources of stress at work. For Raj Vardhman, the co-founder of Goremotely.net, a previous job he had, took the peer pressure to the next level, because they introduced dancing, as a rule.

Vardhman previously worked at a call center where he had to sell newspapers in Canada. His supervisor would randomly ask everyone to put a pause on their work for a few minutes during the day, and then, he played the “Go Bananas” song and all the employees had to dance on that song.

“Granted, it was supposed to be a distraction and some strange form of bonding ritual, but doing this every day was psychologically exhausting,” Vardhman says.

“Perhaps this rule works well for extroverts, but for us introverts, it was a complete nightmare.”

networking in the office
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Timed bathroom breaks

In Norway, call center employees were only allowed eight-minute bathroom breaks, the Telegraph reports. With the help of flashing lights from an alarm system alert installed on their desks, the managers knew that employees are away from their desks for too long in the bathroom.

And that’s not even the most ridiculous rule, because another Norwegian company had staffers sign a bathroom “visitor book,” while others monitored the length of bathroom breaks through an electronic key card system.

Please let these companies know that productive people actually take breaks from time to time.


Group elevator rides

Sustainability is an important initiative for all the companies, but it’s possible the some are really taking things too far. For Ann Sharpsteen, an author and international speaker, one ridiculous office rule she had to follow everyday while working at a production company, required four or more people to take the elevator at a time.

“What was worse, the elevator was glass that rose up through this large atrium,” Sharpsteen says.

So breaking the rule was not an option, unless you’d want everyone to know what you did. Rule breakers might be on thin ice at this company, but let’s face it, everyone breaks the rules from time to time.


Late doughnuts

Fresh, free office doughnuts are a good idea for some and they could definitely boost morale, but that’s not the experience of Glenn Marczewski, the Marketing and Communication Manager of Living As A Leader.

“My former employer required us to buy the whole office doughnuts if we were more than half an hour late for work,” Marczewski says.

“The irony of this is that it made us even later for work.”

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No afternoon coffee

Bad news for coffee addicts that can’t go on without drinking many cups of coffee per day.

Imagine how hard is not having access to a cup of java during the afternoon slump… That was the reality for Saurabh Jindal, who now runs the startup Talk Travel, in her previous role. At her old job, coffee machines were off by 3:00 p.m. What kind of rule is this? I guess their manager was not very liked in the company…

“The office manager believed that people will start leaving the office from 5:00 p.m. onwards; hence the office shouldn’t offer them coffee in such a little time before that,” Jindal says.

In the U.K., Hospital office workers had a similar ridiculous coffee rule. There was no caffeine in the reception area. Staffers weren’t allowed to drink caffeine on the job because it looks like they’re not working hard enough, the Independent reports.

No garlic

Today is the day we express those ridiculous office rules, and some of these rules are about food. As it seems, there are companies that aren’t allowing their employees to eat certain foods.

Another example is an old rule at Condé Nast from Si Newhouse, the former chairman. Newhouse, like Queen Elizabeth, didn’t like garlic at all.

He reportedly said that “no garlic will ever be served in the Condé Nast cafeteria,” according to the Cut because garlic is one of the foods that Queen Elizabeth will never eat.

No birthday celebrations

There are plenty of bad bosses you’d never want to work for in this world, but Mike Davis might win the prize for the grumpiest boss in the world. Davis worked for the Tiger Oil Company is infamous for his office memos.

“There will be no more birthday celebrations, birthday cakes, levity or celebrations of any kind within the office,” the boss wrote on Feb. 8, 1978, the New York Times reports.  “This is a business office.”

office day
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No sitting

It’s hard to imagine a job that has a rule of not letting people sit down, but apparently, that’s the rule for a company in Japan. A plastic manufacturing company only allows shared, standing computer work stations.

Additionally, employees don’t have a computer at their own desk, where they can sit. The company thinks that this drastic method increases productivity, and that’s exactly what an experimental chair-free office art installation in the Netherlands is studying at the moment, FastCompany reports.

However, I’m sure that there are plenty of other methods that help to increase productivity which requires less effort from the employees, rather than standing all day.

No scents

An employee for the City of Detroit filed a complaint that a co-worker’s perfume made it impossible for her to breathe properly.

Apparently, she won a lawsuit in 2001 because the workplace didn’t adapt to her allergy. However, banning stinky and strong perfumes might not be such a bad rule to follow.

Still, after this settlement, employees weren’t allowed to use any scented products, including cologne, aftershave, and even deodorant, CBS reports.

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