Stupid rules are the bane of almost every employees existence. We've pretty much all been there and just tried to keep our faces from being too loud about what we were really thinking about the new policy. Take heart, people. We're about to share"Well, that backfired" workplace policies.
One Reddit user asked:
The answers had us cracking up and swelling with pride (shout-out to the lady who wore a tutu to work) at just how brilliantly sarcastic employees can be when faced with dumb bureaucracy. Truly, nothing has filled us with more hope for our future than these majestic policy failures and how many of these failures were the direct result of pure unfiltered smartassery.
We applaud you all.
Coordinated Lunch Effort
We got a new manager for our office - she was an outside hire and was trying to prove herself quickly, and she was obsessed with efficiency.
So, her first week here she sent out this very rudely worded email about employees eating at our desks (we have a very small break area - 4 tables and we have about 300 employees here) and that we all had to stop eating at our desks, because "it was not efficient to eat and try to work at the same time".
Through a coordinated effort by some of the more sassy people at the office they all had their lunches at the same time and filled the break room with about 90 people. Elbow to elbow and they all ate standing up. Literally, the next day after that happened, she sent out a follow-up email saying that we could eat at our desks but she advised us to take a break from our work from time to time.
It was pretty funny.
I'm a programmer. On a previous job, we were measured by the number of tasks completed. Not how hard they were, or how well they were completed. Just how many. Management ignored our protests and attempts to explain how inaccurate that was.
We figured out to subdivide everything to blow it up into the maximum number of listed tasks possible. A manager might request a new report, so instead of just having "create report" be a task, we'd set up separate tickets for "create button", "make button blue", "make button respond when clicked", "implement business logic", "display results in grid", "allow sorting of grid", and so on. We'd subdivide a 1-day task into 20 one-hour tasks.
Management loved it! Our team "looked" twenty times as productive, despite the fact that we were deliberately slowing ourselves down with red tape.
Increased Foosball Productivity
We had a foosball table at a former job. People would play reasonably often, but just 1 game to take a break. One day, management came down to the software engineering floor and saw people playing foosball in the middle of the afternoon. They declared "no foosball until 4:30 PM"
That ended up making it so that everybody knew when there would be other people wanting to play foosball, so it was much easier to find somebody willing to play and significantly increased the amount of foosball played at work.
My Dad was a corpsman with the Marines doing high desert training in the Mojave. They had a big problem with people getting bit but not being able to identify the snake, so it was hard to find the right antidote. My dad got all the Marines in a room and said:
_"If you get bit by a snake, bring it back here so we can identify it." _
Not even a full week later they had to alter the wording because a marine was bit by a rattlesnake and decided to bring it back-without killing it. This man had carried this snake all the way back to base ALIVE, and the snake decided to let him know exactly how he felt about that by repeatedly biting his arm the entire time. Needless to say, that marine went home, and they made sure to hold another meeting where they told everyone to KILL the snake, then bring it back.
"Just Had A Beer"
My company, as part of its alcohol policy, said you should not drink for at least four hours before coming to work. When engineers got called about production problems over the weekend, they all "just had a beer" but could be there in about four or five hours once that time limit expired.
Dress Code Policy For One
An insane amount of time and hand wringing went into my office's dress code policy. Nobody wanted one except for one person - and they demanded it. When the final draft was ultimately released, every department head had a valid reason why their staff should be exempted. So the policy wound up only affecting myself and the guy that insisted on making the policy.
I violate this policy on a daily basis.
No Overtime Pay
Overtime is paid in free time instead of money. Three people quit so far, more people planning to. No new hires to be found. It's probably just a matter of time before this shop closes down.
Sexist Dress Code Meets Its Match
I worked for this consulting company once that out of the blue issued a new dress code requiring women to wear skirts to work. At the time, most of the women employees were front office, so I'm guessing they just forgot about the handful of us working in development, where we rarely saw our clients directly, and would often end up doing things like crawling around on the floor moving cables around and things (we did a lot of turnkey systems). It wasn't just the developers, either. A lot of the front office women weren't happy about the prospect of having to buy all new work clothes, and there are plenty of women who never wear skirts and didn't want to start.
We brought it up with HR, but they blew us off, so we got together and agreed on a hostile compliance approach, where we'd wear the most inappropriate skirts we could find. There was patchwork! Big ugly wife style skirts! Some frilly thing that almost looked like a tutu! At least one woman put a skirt on over her pants. And little did they know, I had a small collection of vintage 1960s leather miniskirts!
I was almost disappointed when they buckled and changed the dress code back because that was kind of fun.
I worked for a place that did PC repairs. During my orientation the guy taking me around took me to the QA department. Once all builds or repairs are made they're sent to the QA department for a final inspection before going out to the customer. The guy jokingly said:
**"We used to pay the QA guys bonuses for every mistake they found on a build." **
I started laughing. The only problem was it wasn't a joke. They actually paid bonuses to the QA people who found mistakes on builds. For anyone not familiar with the internal workings of a PC, it could take less than 3 seconds to completely render a computer inoperable. Hell, you could loosen a connection just by inspecting it. Luckily that policy ended before I was hired.
I mean can you imagine giving someone a bonus for finding screw ups when it would take almost no effort to make a screw up and then claim they found it?
No Bathroom? No Students.
I worked at a large high school of about 3000 students. As a teacher, you realize fights happen. We all know they do and best thing to do is make sure those involved are punished and leave it at that.
This was our principals first year in the building. She wasn't a new principal as in brand new, but she was new to our school. Our school wasn't horrible but it was declining.
A fight happens first period on the basement floor. Security is called, those involved are sent to the deans. Whatever it happens no big deal right?
Principal comes on announcements 2nd period. First she acknowledges there was a fight, which most already knew about. It's a high school after all. Then she says:
"No student will be allowed to leave to use the bathroom the rest of the day! Teachers do not allow students to leave to use the bathroom!"
Well, this wasn't received well. Students decide to flood the halls, yelling and shouting. This happens on all floors (six total). Students refusing to go to class and just shouting, yelling, running in the halls. I opened my class for the good kids and got in as many as I could.
Security couldn't do anything. This went on for 2-3 periods, most of these kids said f*ck it and just left.
Around 6th period an assembly was held. Those students who remained were put in the auditorium where they were lectured by administration. These were the "good" kids who stayed and did nothing wrong, mind you!
Eventually word gets out to the NY Post that there was a "riot."
She turned out to be an awful principal and after more incidents and bad press we ran her out within a span of 2 years.
We created this thing called the "safety bonus." It was one of four possible bonuses people could get. The original version of it said that anyone that was accident-free would get a bonus.
So people stopped reporting their accidents.
We had to set up another Safety Award for those who filed their safety reports in a timely manner with clear print and full details.
Out In A Storm
**"You're not allowed to stay in the building during breaks" **
That meant the employees had to be outside during a storm. The next week most of the people were sick at home.
15 Minute Time Sheets
IT department changed how work is given out and time is accounted for:
We now had to fill out daily time sheets that accounted for every 15 min section of time with a summary of what you've worked on. The time sheets were a waste, we had to stop work and report what we were working on.
Classic micro management, within months the entire IT staff left except 1 guy.
Don't micro manage when the job market is full of other jobs that will just let people actually work.
Change Of Plans
At my previous job, you could schedule vacation and give it back if your plans changed. One guy would schedule 2 weeks off, wait until the schedule was made for that month, then give it back. Since the schedule assumed he wasn't going to be there, he would make up his own shifts, since he was "extra."
This would lead to him "working 11-7" (showing up at 2, taking lunch, working from 4-6 and leaving early). He would do this 3-4 times per year.
"Don't do anything unless directed by your Boss, any deviation from this will result in write-up/termination."
This was a very literal directive from upper management that took place after an office incident. Our work is very fluid, and our team alone contained 20 people. Needless to say productivity hit unfounded lows.
Work wanted everyone to come in even when sick so the boss can inspect us to determine if we can work or not. Doctors notes were not accepted "since they can be fake."
I complied. Ended up vomiting on his desk over important papers.
My work just recently tried to implement a new attendance policy that didn't last 24hrs. They changed it so that after two "unexcused" absences in a year you were automatically fired. An "unexcused" absence is any absence or tardiness when you didn't give your boss more than 24hrs notice.
So nobody could get sick or have an emergency? Waking up puking is an unexcused absence?
My old job had a Draconian attendance policy in which if you were at a second late, you got a 1/2 point demerit. If you were an hour late, you got that same 1/2 point demerit. Demerits accrued:
5 or 6 was termination
In addition to making for some anxiety-filled employees feel forced to make dumb decisions like speed through snow storms, it also meant if you got stuck in a traffic jam, you might as well just take your time, stop for gas, get breakfast, etc.
Same place also had a similar policy that assured the plague spread through the whole place. Say you came to work at 7. By 9 am you've got a fever and full-blown flu symptoms. If you clock out then, you get a whole-point demerit. But if you sit there coughing and shivering and infecting your coworkers for another 2 hours (til your shift was half over), you only got a half-point demerit.
I used to work for a production company that employed a lot of really skilled, award winning editors. There were producers and executives and directors but the real money makers, the people who really made the company were the editors, so the company was basically centered around them.
The executives would always order in food for the editors, and the editors would usually eat in their offices while doing their thing.
One day the executives decided to cut paid lunches to save money. The editors all thought this was a dick move, so they'd go out for lunch and sometimes stay out for like 3 hours. There was nothing the company could do, really, because these editors were top of their game and if Warner Bros. heard that the editor they always used had left, they might leave, too.
So the company couldn't do anything. They saved maybe $15 dollars per person per day, but lost like 4 hours per person per day.
No Sofa? Longer Naps
New manager got rid of the sofa in the break room so that people couldn't nap on their hour long lunch break. It ended up making one person sleep even more.
No one ever overslept or abused the privilege, but it was good to have the option on a tough day. Once the sofa was gone, our stoner guy started sleeping in other places. The layout was terrible, so there were half walls and all kinds of nooks and crannies to hide in; including in-between walls and in the warehouse. That's when we started losing him. We couldn't find him to wake him up, and he would oversleep. The couch in the break room was a common area with people moving about, and he could only catnap there. Since he was finding little hiding spots he would go into a deeper sleep and was less likely to be disturbed by our calls for him.
He didn't lose his job somehow, that place had a hard time hiring.