The best is the enemy of the good. Sometimes, even the most experienced managers forget this simple truth. Of course, rules are necessary, but some of them may lead to chaos. We’ve read some crazy stories about silly rules that have backfired, and there’s a bonus section about the way children fight silly school rules.
A boss thought we were “stealing time” by using the bathroom for too long. He locked all the bathrooms in the building except the ones he could see from his office door, and he would sit there with a stopwatch timing us. I discovered that with my height, it was really easy to go through the drop ceiling and over the half wall, and I was the only other person using the men’s room, besides my boss, who is short.
So I went in. Locked it from the inside and did my business and climbed out the ceiling, leaving the door locked, so my boss could not get into the bathroom when he needed to go and was forced to use the ladies’ room. Which led to our female employees complaining that he was taking too long in their bathroom. © geoffbowman / RedditWe had a no-dating-at-work rule, and then the director started seeing someone, and other people had their own hidden relationships as well. That rule was nullified when the director announced his engagement, and then about 6 other couples came out. © BodhiBill / RedditA place I used to work had a rule that executive-level staff needed to be contactable when on leave, so they had a section on the leave form for the address of where you’d be staying and a contact number. Some knuckle-shuffler in HR decided it applied to all staff, and the shenanigans began. People would put down the address and phone number of sports complexes, and medical clinics. I gave the latitude and longitude of the place I was going camping and the UHF channel my radio would be tuned to. © Flight_19_Navigator / RedditI worked at a coffee chain for like 5+ years, and at one point, our district manager thought it was a good idea to implement a “just say yes” policy, where we literally weren’t allowed to tell the customer no. It lasted for about 3 months, and in that 3 months, our unaccounted product and waste went up over 300% because when the POS didn’t have a way to punch in a customer request, we had to just do it anyways. © yunglilbigslimhomie / RedditAn old roommate of mine was a senior developer for a small company. It was an open secret that one of the other senior devs, a guy who had been there since the beginning, would sometimes spend time looking at plastic surgery photos, before/after shots, photos of active procedures, etc.
One day, a project manager said something to the CEO about this guy, and the CEO flipped. He said that, going forward, no one was allowed to use their work computers to access external websites AT ALL. Anyone who’s ever been a developer knows that half the job is googling stuff, so the rule only lasted 1 day. © Salsa__Stark / RedditEvery shift, there’s a quota we need to fulfill. And then, even if you do fulfill it, you have to keep working until your 8 hours are up. Cue everyone speeding for 4 hours, having a 3-hour lunch/coffee break, then slowly moving for an hour. No rule about us taking necessary breaks if we’re still capable of reaching the quota. Now we’re allowed to stop once we’re done. © InariNoroi / RedditI’m a teacher, and we were told not to have our cell phones out during the workday. Then we had a drill in the afternoon, and we were all sent an email in the morning explaining that we’d need to send a text to an admin, giving the names of any absent or missing students along with everyone who was in the classroom at the time. The admin ended up walking the halls and banging on doors to get teachers to open up. Now, we can all use our phones for “work purposes only.” © Unknown author / RedditThis was before I was hired, but still epic. In a medical setting, the previous manager instituted a policy banning “leisure” shoes, requiring pantyhose and makeup for “nurses and therapists,” and mandating sport coats and ties for “doctors,” but she failed to distinguish between genders. On day 1, all of the nurses and therapists (roughly 40% of whom were male) showed up in full face makeup and “dressy” shoes (including a couple of brave guys who wore low heels), and all of the doctors (a pretty even 50/50 gender split) showed up in sport coats and ties. The policy was immediately rescinded, and that manager resigned not long after. © angrygnomes58 / RedditAt one of the first jobs I had as a trainee in a big corporation’s office, my supervisor noticed I came in a few minutes late once and told me off for it. I did arrive at 9:03 or whatever, but after a few more minutes, my computer was booted up, and I started working. The same day, close to 9:30, I saw several coworkers coming out of the kitchen with coffee still in their hands and chatting, getting to their desks, and just then booting up their computers. Boss didn’t say a word. So I took up joining my coworkers for a 30-min coffee break every single morning for the 2 or 3 months I continued to work there. © szofter / RedditI worked for a company that had mandatory 1-hour lunch breaks. Since we ate on the premises, our lunch break was often 15 minutes or so. We tried negotiating having shorter lunch breaks, so we could leave earlier and beat traffic.
The next day an e-mail was sent from the owner stating the fixed work and break hours for the whole team, and that they were to be followed, with no exceptions. Next week, a big client called about halfway through our lunch, and nobody moved. It rang and rang until said owner took the call, talked to them, and immediately came to scold us. “Sorry, boss, as per your rules, we are off until 1 PM, no exceptions.”
A couple of weeks later, we did some work on-site for the same client. They were, to be honest, one of the coolest clients I have ever had in my life. They took us out to lunch, and while talking, we ended up relaying the owner’s rule. They had a big chuckle over it, and while the project lasted, they made a point to always call while we were on lunch break just to annoy the owner. © LGMHorus / RedditI was working as a medical assistant at a private practice medical clinic. Our clinic manager wouldn’t allow the new receptionist to drive to the bank to deposit cash. They made her walk while carrying the money bag so that she couldn’t “drive away with the money.” Bizarre. I know. That went on for a few weeks. Then the receptionist was mugged, and over $1,000 in cash was stolen. She was allowed to drive after that. © IndyMazzy / RedditMy mother was an elementary school teacher. For years, the teachers’ “be quiet” signal was holding up one hand in a peace sign. Well, the principal decided that this didn’t have enough meaning and invented her own. At a staff meeting, she explained that her new sign stood for “ears Listening, eyes Looking, lips Locked.” She then made an “L” with her index finger and thumb and held it in front of her forehead.
This principal didn’t take criticism well, so none of the staff members were willing to tell her that she was making the “Loser Sign.” And so the new sign was taught to the children. Most of them made fun of it. Some of the more sensitive ones got upset by it. Overall it was a disaster, and within a few weeks, they went back to the peace sign. © JugOfVoodoo / RedditBonus: School riot against the system
My high school principal was known for sending girls home to change if their bra straps were showing. In my sophomore year, he tried to send one of my classmates home, but she was like, “Nah, I’ve got a change of clothes, no need to send me home.”
So she went to the bathroom and took her bra off. The principal was pissed, but couldn’t do anything about it since she technically was following the dress code. It became a thing. Like, hundreds of high school girls removing their bras at school. © puffdotty / RedditWere there any silly rules at your work that just annoyed everyone?