In the office, there are general rules and policies which everyone is expected to follow to ensure the workplace runs smoothly with as few hiccups as possible. There’ll be safety rules, etiquette rules, and rules when using the kitchen area for example – ones you’d expect and should come with common sense.

A new study from CV-Library has revealed that 36.8% of 1,000 UK workers feel they work under ridiculous, silly and unnecessary rules, alongside standard ones. The rules in question, as reported by Smallbusiness.co.uk are as follows:

Toilet restrictions – Many respondents had some pretty ridiculous rules surrounding using the loo. Being timed/having a strict time frame to ‘go’, having to ask permission as if in school, and some respondents were even searched before popping to the lav.

As a basic human right, these restrictions seem a bit extreme and bizarre to implement for working adults.

Punctuality punishments – There’s no doubt that punctuality is important. Being late to work every day means you probably won’t be employed much longer. However, some rules are pretty harsh on the matter. From the survey, some employees reported being docked 15 minutes pay if you were 2 minutes late.

This approach may be effective if some employees are regularly late, however it seems unnecessary and harsh if employees are generally punctual, and the reason for the odd two-minute delay is something unavoidable e.g. public transport or childcare issues.

Dress code rules – Workplace dress-codes are a common discussion – what does ‘smart-casual’ even mean? Uncertainty and what’s deemed as appropriate at work is an on-going theme on the matter, however some rules can cause more than confusion. Some respondents reported that women weren’t allowed to wear trousers, and one employee said they were sent home for dressing too formal on a ‘dress-down’ day.

The issue of gender discrimination comes up a lot of the theme of dress-codes, with many companies still requiring female employees to wear heels of a certain height, despite the pain and discomfort this may cause. The heel issue – and others such as the trouser rule – seem to be incredibly out-dated and unfair in the contemporary work sector.

Zip it – Shockingly, some respondents said they have restrictions on when to speak. Only being allowed to speak out loud in the staff room was a rule which arose from the survey, another being not allowed to say ‘hello’ to customers – only ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’.

Don’t spill it – The final rule that stood out from the survey is one surrounding drinks. One company bans having drinks at the desk in fear of spillages, and another doesn’t even allow employees to drink water. The strangest one yet comes from one untrusting company who bans employees from carrying drinks up and down the stairs.

So, how could having unnecessary and silly rules in place affect the workforce?

The overly strict nature of some companies can begin to feel like a school environment, which may then drive employees to react like disobedient school students. The survey revealed that one in five respondents feel like they can’t be trusted and 57.2% proceed to disobey rules they deem silly or ridiculous.

The anti-school subculture that arises in schools due to being disobedient, overly-monitored and distrusted can translate to the workplace, as that 57.2% figure of rule-breakers shows. Not conforming to rules and not feeling trusted could make employees feel overly-restricted and unhappy, which could have negative effects on productivity and performance.

Founder and managing director of CV-Library Lee Biggins comments on the results of the survey: “Every workplace needs rules: otherwise you’d simply never get things done! That said it’s clear that many of the rules highlighted in our research are just ridiculous. Employees want to feel trusted and while one workplace can differ massively to another, you have to treat your staff like adults – especially when it comes to being allowed to drink water and going to the toilet!”


Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our Content Writer.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with a love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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