9 Insane Office Rules No One Should Have To Follow

Written by Peter Jones

Office Rules are important. And companies have them for a reason. However, too often a company seeks to correct the bad behavior of a very few employees by making big, sweeping (and often overreaching) rules that affect everyone.

Here are 9 examples of the worst kinds of overmanagement–the sorts of rules that can really alienate a workforce.

1. Restricting the Internet

Just because one idiot looked at, ahem, objectionable content on a work computer or spent more time refreshing Twitter than answering vital emails, that doesn’t mean everyone should be punished by having their internet usage restricted. Responsible adult employees should be allowed to check personal email and even Facebook in their breaks. As long as work doesn’t suffer, it should never be a management concern. Besides, policies like these can prevent employees from doing valuable research online when the Internet could be a useful tool.

2. Time Policing

Yes, employees are supposed to work their predetermined hours. But they’re hired and paid for the work they do, not the sum of all the minutes they sit in their desk chairs. Draconian late policies or strict documentation requirements for sick days are just unnecessary and will breed distrust and discontent in employees who would otherwise be happy to do good work and care about their jobs.

3. Email Policing

Heard of companies that require you to select a pre-approved subject before able to send an email through the company’s email client? That’s completely ridiculous. A little trust in one’s employees to communicate effectively about their tasks can go a long way to making sure everyone isn’t totally miserable.

4. Bathroom Policing

Seriously. This isn’t kindergarten. Limiting people’s trips to the bathroom is only going to give them UTIs and a healthy case of rage. If your job does this, find a new job. Seriously.

5. Stinginess with Miles

Companies that require employees to travel for work should always let them accumulate personal miles on work trips. This is one of the few perks for having to constantly be on the go, or in the air. There’s no reason to hoard them, unless a company is actively looking to breed resentment.

6. Policing All Language

It’s one thing to have an emphasis on diversity and tolerance in the workplace and a low tolerance for inappropriate or hateful comments. That’s mandatory. But getting too involved in every potential microaggression, such as denouncing someone for saying “bless you” to a colleague when they sneeze? Overkill.

7. Rigid Ranking

It’s one thing to track performance. It is another thing entirely to force employees to be evaluated on the same rigid curve. Everyone ends up feeling dehumanized and undervalued, and honestly ends up underperforming as a result. Companies should evaluate their employees individually. Every time.

8. Banning Cell Phones

Banning mobile phones entirely only penalizes the good employees who use their phones only on breaks or in emergencies. If someone is on their phone all day, that’s a conversation for their supervisor to undertake with that person only! No one else needs to be punished with a sweeping, overreaching rule.

9. Limiting Self Expression

No personal items on the desk? No water bottles? Restrictive dress policy? These kinds of policies just make employees feel like cogs in an assembly line. Surely there’s a better way to handle employees who aren’t sure how to decorate or dress in a professional manner.

Bottom line: Employees  should be trusted to do the job. We’re all adults who should be left alone unless underperformance is an issue. Everyone shouldn’t be punished for the infractions of a few.

About the author

Peter Jones