'Wear safety goggles when using a stapler' - 10 of the 'dumbest' office rules

From regulating beard lengths to bans on snacks, mobile phones, and moving furniture, here are the choicest examples of how ridiculous some bosses can be.

by Sofia Collins
Last Updated: 14 Jul 2015

Not a fan of following strict rules? Chances are the regulations in your workplace have sound reasoning behind them - you know, to keep things in order, perhaps for safety reasons, or simply to create a professional atmosphere. Nonetheless, we thought it was worth digging out this old Reddit thread, so you can count your blessings that your current workplace isn’t anything like ones in the bizarre revelations below.

1. ‘No cell phone shaped objects in your pockets at work. At first I thought it was a typo, then they started to write people up for wallets, packs of gum, and other rectangular shapes in our pockets.’

Credit: Johan Bergs

Is this a gap in the market for circle- or triangle-shaped cell phones? (Well, probably not…) 

2. ‘My place of employment only lets staff drink water from small cups, and you must drink the whole cup immediately, then dispose of the cup. You are not allowed to have water bottles on shift, no matter which part of the store you are working in. If you are on break (unpaid time) you cannot purchase a bottle of water, even if you drink all of it and dispose of the bottle before you come back on shift.’

Because, you know, we want to minimise the risk of a plastic-bottle apocalypse.

3. 'I used to work in a government department, and people used to keep snacks on their desk while working, because we're human. The employer implemented ‘lean working’ so every desk had to be totally empty, except for select items that had to be arranged in a certain way (pens had to be to the upper left of the keyboard, I think). This rule forbid food items, but allowed one ‘personal item.’ One staff member had a banana in a banana case as her personal item. She was told to put it away. She refused and took it further until it was ruled that because she wasn't eating it and the skin hadn't been broken, it was an ‘inactive banana’ and thus a personal item. It only became active during the act of eating, at which point it became food. No other food had an inactive state. Only bananas.’

Now this is just bizarre. 

4. 'We have to wear safety goggles when using a stapler at work due to an idiotic employee. Yes, a stapler for paper.’

As my grandma always says, better safe than sorry, right?

5. 'Someone at work sneezed and another one said ‘Bless You!’ A third party heard it and complained to HR about it. Guy who said ‘bless you’ was given a warning and had to take a course in professionalism.’

At least we know this could never happen in the UK.

6. 'I can speak in front of all my co-workers for as long as I want and they have to stop whatever they're doing during that whole time.’

Must be a politician. 

7. In one person’s workplace 'they are ridiculous about their timestamps. For example, lets say you work the phones. You are a telemarketer, and your schedule is from 8 to 5, every day. You are allowed one fifteen-minute break at 10:30. You are allowed your lunch at 1:00, and you are allowed one more fifteen-minute break at 3:30. If you are ONE MINUTE late coming back from any of those three things, you are immediately written up.'

Sounds a lot like the military.

8. One attorney posted, ‘I can't bring in soda to share with other employees because there is a vending machine.’

The monopoly of the vending machine is absolute.

9. Another user said there were five 'separate and distinct' rules for men’s beards.

‘Beards had to be between a certain length or you had to shave it. No mutton chops. Rules about moustache/beard combos. If you wanted to grow a beard, you were not allowed back into work for two weeks until you grew it out to a ‘respectable length’.'

No stray hairs allowed.

10. And the last one: staff are not allowed to move their own furniture.

‘Want to slide a desk across the room? Can't. That is violating union rules, and taking work away from the facilities team. You have to call and schedule the movers. Then they charge you for it.’

Think of all the jobs you are stealing - you have one already, you don’t need more.

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