Aren't rules put in place to make everything easier? That's how they are supposed to work, although sometimes they can do the exact opposite. What might seem like a good rule at the time can turn out to make everything so much worse.
People on Quora share the stupidest rule ever enforced at their work. Content has been edited for clarity.
"When I was in nursing school, in my last two years, we had some post-diploma nursing students in our classes. At that time, there were two routes to become an RN, a diploma or a degree. Nurses who had gotten a diploma had the option to return for a degree if they wished; they only had to complete the courses that hadn't been covered in their diploma, basically. It's commonly known as a post-RN degree. In this particular class, one student was an RN who worked in labor and delivery. We'll call her 'Cathy.' Another student worked in postpartum and public health. We'll call her 'Linda.'
In one class, we were doing a check-in at the start to see how everyone was doing. Cathy was absolutely incensed due to a new policy that had just been enacted. Management had decided there was too much phone traffic between the labor and delivery and postpartum units. Consequently, only the charge nurse and unit clerk from labor and delivery were permitted to call over. If you called the postpartum unit and you weren't one of those people, the staff had been instructed to hang up on you. (Linda confirmed this was the case.)
What bothered Cathy more than the phone traffic issue was that the staff had been ordered to hang up on people. She felt that this was just completely unprofessional behavior, and I agree 100%."
"I was working for a company that worked for a company we'll call 'BU&U.' We did tech support for their media services. Our location had been upgraded to a 'Tier 3' support location. It didn't mean much except we got more specialized phone calls from other agents, rather than customers reaching us directly. We still had to contact BU&U directly for actual technical issues that had to do with the system not working, but we were able to authorize that contact.
I was a good agent. I worked late shift (important) until three in the morning. I often took escalated calls, helped other agents, etc. My bosses had no problems with my work.
I received a call about 12:30 in the morning from a new customer who was unable to make international phone calls. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but he had an exchange student staying with his family that needed to make a call at a particular time the next morning. I don't know about, but at the time you had to be set up for international phone calls ahead of time. You couldn't just dial a country code and a number.
No problem, I'll just authorize that in the system and we'll get it setup. Not so fast. The system wasn't authorizing that. So, I have to put the customer on hold while I call a technician who can actually check the system. Turns out the authorization system is down. On BU&U's side. They hope it will be up and running in the morning.
There is NOTHING that I can do. By this time I've been on the phone with the customer for 40 minutes as I've tried to authorize it every which way and then calling the technician at BU&U that controlled that system. This customer is mad and insisting the student needs to be able to make the call. I get that, but the system is down. There is literally nothing that I can do. I tell him that he can try calling back in the morning to see if the system is running again, but I can no longer do anything at this time. The entire time I am calm and supportive of the customer (my on-site bosses listened to the call later).
Two weeks later, as soon as my shift starts, I get called into a conference room with the site manager (who usually wasn't there at that time in the evening) and my supervisor. That's never a good sign.
The VP in charge of the media service had pulled 5 random calls from across the company and had determined that I 'wasn't helpful enough on the call,' and wanted me gone. This had actually happened the week previously, and both my supervisor and my site manager had listened to the call. They had argued with BU&U, pointing out that there was literally nothing that I could have done for this customer since it was BU&U's system that was down. They even went so far as to show me the emails back and forth.
In the end, they had to let me go. So I got fired because BU&U had a broken system that I couldn't fix."
"My last job required us to be at the office unless a project meant we had to be at an alternate worksite. However, as a programmer, I could do my work anywhere, except for at the office.
My office was in a classified space and my project was unclassified. I needed unfiltered Internet to download packages and utilities, and that was not allowed in the secure space. The best we got was a military unclassified network (NIPRNET), but most of the sites I needed for research or software downloads were blocked.
The alternative worksites were either the physical model for the project was being stored (with 15Mbps Wi-Fi, at best, and constant drop-outs due to eight WAPs all on the same channel) or at the corporate satellite office, which had the same filters as NIPRNET.
So, I deemed my house as an alternative worksite. That worked fairly well for many months until my corporate boss found out. It was a violation of the contract to work from home.
My argument was, how is working from home any different from working at a designated alternate location? Either way, I’m not in the main office where leadership can monitor me. If I’m going to mess around, I can easily do it anywhere. Plus, at home, I have 200+Mbps of unfiltered Internet, I don’t have walk-by traffic making constant noise, and I’m just as reachable via phone or chat as I would be at a designated alternate location.
We came to the agreement that, as long as I didn’t say I was working from home, my choice of 'alternate worksite' would not be questioned. A few months later I got a better job so it was really a non-issue."
"About a decade back, I was a low-level drone in a corporate office. Someone rearranged the org chart. Our sub-group was put under a different department and moved to a different set of cubicals in a different part of the building. At first, we didn't think it would matter but we were very wrong.
People around us in the new area spent their days on the phone, and our section was a little quiet island because we were listening to our iPods. Our jobs were all database and spreadsheets and emails. We were focused on our numbers and none of us were very social. People who walked past saw us using our iPods to listen to music with headphones. They couldn't listen to music because they were on the phone, and it wasn't fair that we could.
Our iPods were forbidden. Productivity dropped a bit. Listening to a dozen conversations around us killed our accuracy, and accuracy was everything. Without it, nothing made sense. Then someone figured out that earplugs were mostly invisible and cut out the chatter. That helped for a few weeks until they were discovered and forbidden too.
Then someone complained that I always left at two, and person X in our group never came in until 10 am. What was up with that? They had to be there eight am to five pm because people expected them to answer their phones during business hours. How was it fair that we came in whenever? Why did we get to have flex time? We had always had flex time. The whole department our sub-group had previously been under had flex time.
I had never called anyone outside the office in two years, and no one called me. Most of my day was spent in data entry and the rest on email; nothing was urgent. And yet, somehow, our flex time got canceled because the new department didn't get it and people were complaining that we did.
First, one person quit. Her replacement was barely hired before the next person quit. When I put in my notice, there were only two people left from the original team of eight. Productivity was way down, and recoveries in the quarter without flextime had gone from half a million the previous quarter to barely over 100k. New people took a while to build up speed and confidence and always had a ton of questions.
Management and HR cornered me in an office, asking what had happened. Uh, didn't you ask everyone else who left? So I explained why the loss of iPods was irritating and killed productivity, but the flex time loss was a deal-breaker issue for me. I couldn't justify the commute time in rush hour, or after school childcare. It matched what the others said.
They said the new rules matched the new department our group was in and had to stay. Okay, sure, that's why I'm leaving. Can I go now?
Last I heard, the whole functioning original team was gone within five months of the loss of flex time. I imagine they lost a ton of money until the new people were up to speed. And I never understood why management had to mess with something that was working well."
"I used to work as a life insurance agent. My job was to call clients, set schedules, and come out to their home to update their policies and meet with everyone in the immediate family to make sure everyone knew what to do when grandpa died. With the sheer volume of clientele of not only my city but the surrounding cities, I was sitting in about 30 homes a day. After a few months, I started to get my style down and get into the flow of things.
Now, part of my job was sales. When sitting with the family and explaining the coverage that the union (who we worked directly with) provided for that one person, part of what we did was get other members on board and signed up. At the end of the day, life insurance is a helpful thing to have when you pass, since we all do, and I was there to help. However, our office still had prizes and competitions based on performance. How many appointments, sales, no shows, referrals, down to even best story of the week. We had a lot of friendly competitions.
Well, in wanting to get the sales award (a large amount of money), I tried to figure out what worked best for sales. And I found it. I signed on more members when I wore all black and a red tie. It is important to note that at the time, my facial hair was a large soul patch and curled mustache. Pair that with my black clothes and red Eldridge knot tie… I slightly resembled the devil. Okay, maybe more than slightly. I was a spitting darn image.
Well months down the road, during a standard PR campaign, members in our area were called to give feedback. I don't know all of the specifics but I was told that while the clients were overall happy with my performance, I scared the living heck out of them during specific parts of the meeting (mainly the ones where I go into detail about the funeral process).
This resulted in the rule: No black slacks and/or red ties are to be worn with black shirts under any circumstances.
I started wearing a red shirt with a black tie. We soon had an amendment to the rule."
"A friend at work used to like to make herself a cup of instant oatmeal when she came in using the boiling water tap. Then she would sit with the cup on her desk and have a spoonful here and there while she worked.
Then a supervisor told her she was not allowed to eat at her desk.
But others in the office often had their own mugs that they sipped, so she asked why she couldn't have a cup at her desk while everyone else did? Well, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, that is different, because it’s not food. It’s a drink. But some people made cup-o-soup or ramen noodles in their cups; wasn’t that food? Well, yes, that was food, but it didn’t need a spoon.
What? That’s right, you can drink ramen noodles or instant soup without a spoon, but oatmeal requires you to lift it to your mouth with a spoon. Mugs without spoons? Ok. Mugs with spoons? Verboten.
I would have just made my oatmeal with more water so that I didn’t need a spoon, but she went to HR and complained. HR told her she could only have food at her desk (food defined as being needed to be eaten with a utensil) if she had a medical condition that required her to eat throughout the day. So she got her doctor to provide a note that she had low blood sugar and required food at her desk."
"I worked for a medical device company that no longer exists. When the engineering and manufacturing got moved from a very old facility to the brand-new digs where doctors would visit, we were told to be to work by eight am 'or else.'
We asked, 'so suppose we worked until 10 or 11 PM the night before to meet a deadline, can we come in at nine or 9:30?'
'Be here by eight am or else,' we were told.
Guess what! The parking lot was empty until about 7:50 am, and was always empty again at 5:10 PM.
The same idiotic CEO insisted that all men wear a tie 'or else' about the same time. When the rule first came out, he had managers at the doors to verify we used our badge to record time in as well as verify everyone was wearing a tie. No tie, and the offender was sent home to retrieve one. A few of us helped make their job easier (much like John Hancock), so we would have the system read our badges on the order of 20 times just to be sure that it got our entry (or exit) every time through the door. Those logs that managers actually had to pore over went from a few pages to volumes of paper.
Casual day was the last Friday of every month where one could wear jeans and a nice shirt instead of nice trousers, a button-down shirt, and tie. The next year, Good Friday was the last day of the month.
We asked our direct managers, 'Can we move casual day to that Thursday, since we will all be off on Friday?'
'Sure no problem,' they said,
The CEO had his head explode. He had the engineering Admin go look at every single employee (approximately 400), and make a note of who was casual and who wore business attire that day. A note was placed in each 'offender’s' permanent HR file. This included all of the first and second-line managers! I still can’t believe that out of habit, I wore business dress that day."
"It was a manufacturing business adjacent to the recently defunct Stapleton Airport in Denver. This is an area known as Tornado Alley. It sits on the western edge of the Great Plains, and tornadoes are a fact of life. This was also before cell phones were common.
I had just started working there, so I didn't have a good grasp of the corporate culture.
I was outside smoking a joint and staring at the clouds. Then I noticed that the clouds were forming a large spiral--the start of a funnel. Overhead. The sky had turned a strange greenish shade. The wind had died. It was September. Even to a Yankee like me, this all added up to a big Ruh-roh. I hurried inside and asked where the TV, radio, or emergency weather radio was. They didn't have one. There was also no storm cellar.
Here on the edge of Tornado Alley, there's no way to be aware of weather alerts? Nah. Can't be. So I asked Jerry, the Controller. Nope, and he wouldn't allow a radio or TV anywhere in the plant, either. I explained that there appeared to be a tornado forming directly above the building. Shouldn't we tell the roughly 100 people working inside a largely windowless single-story structure that we might all soon be landing in Kansas? So they could, you know, flee, call their families to warn them, or pray, or something?
Nope, nope, nope. See, if we warned people every time a tornado alert occurred, or a blizzard shut down the highway, the employees would stop working and leave--probably for the rest of the day! And besides, what were the odds that a tornado would actually hit this building?
Well, he was right. The spate of small and large tornadoes that day missed us by a full quarter of a mile. Pfft! I was such a worrier!
That was the first of many times in the brief course of my employment there that my husband begged me to quit."
"At a school I worked at, they subtracted an amount from your salary for the ‘coffee fund.' In essence, this was just an amount subtracted for any coffee, tea, milk or water you may use (we had a very small kitchenette in the staff room where there was some horrible instant coffee, a kettle, a small sugar container, a small fridge with some milk in and a container with teabags). They did not ask if they were allowed to subtract this amount and just did. They also did this for all teachers, even those that never used the kitchenette or made any beverages at school.
The coffee supplied was so horrible, that most people (myself included) brought their own coffee from home. We were also incredibly busy, so most people had two cups of coffee or tea per day, at most. So most teachers used the water and the milk supplied, and that was that.
They also had a rule that you were not allowed to use the milk for anything else. If you made oatmeal and wanted a squirt of milk, too bad. Even if you didn’t make coffee and wanted to use the milk that should’ve gone into your coffee for your oatmeal, no way. Unacceptable.
Now the amount subtracted was about two dollars, which isn’t a lot. But if you consider that that is enough to buy almost 8 liters of milk per person per month, then it really becomes absurd that you couldn’t use a few drops for your oatmeal. If you consider how much milk someone uses and start to do the calculations, it just becomes even more absurd.
It almost lead to some riots in the staff room. Luckily I got away from that school before they drove me mad with their weird controlling rules. My new office supplies milk, fantastic coffee, peanut butter, and lunch, with no coffee fund-fee insight."
"There was a semester when I was given two subjects to take on, each with a class of lesser than 25 students. As a freelancer, the subject was not mine to take on originally. It was only given to me when the original teacher had too much on her hands and requested a freelancer’s help.
When I strode into the HOD (Head of Dept)’s office four weeks before the commencement of the two subjects, I was given the shock of my life when she told me that:-
A) I had to rewrite the syllabus outline for the Education Ministry evaluation in case the university needed an upgrade of the contents. The original contents were written almost 10 years back.
B) I had to recommend newer reference books since the original document mentioned books that are now obviously out of date. The publication date was 10 years ago.
C) I had to provide student notes (booklet style not more than 50 pages) for each subject for them to use, and reference and study materials for their final examinations.
I was mouth-opened, and said 'You got to be kidding me! Why do I have to do this now?'
Her answers were:-
'Well, it was only this semester that our directors decided to implement this policy. You are the teacher for this semester, so you have to do it.'
'As for the student notes, the directors felt that it is a good thing for teachers to prepare notes for their reading and preparation. When you have done the notes, you need to pass them to us so that we can duplicate them and sell them to the students at a profit.'
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
'You’ve got to be kidding me! You want to make money out of providing students with notes from us but yet you are not paying me a single cent extra for doing all the above?' I said, outraged.
She innocently smiled and answered, 'The Dean says that the profit we make will go towards buying books or even providing paid outing trips for teachers in our department. In fact, when we did a soft implementation of four subjects last semester, we made about 104 dollars from the sale of the notes to the students.'
I felt sick to the stomach listening to this go on and on and on. She was being completely serious about this. We were a desperate university trying to make small dollars and cents from notes that are the student’s right to have, since they pay thousands of dollars as tuition fees for their diploma and degrees to the university every semester.
Needless to say, I quietly did the notes, passed the original copy to a student, and told him to circulate the copy to those who wanted them. I would only retrieve my copy once everyone had made their choice to have them duplicated (with the shop of their choice, the style of their choice, the paper type of their choice) and paying for them themselves at cost.
I might suffer the consequences of insubordination, but what the heck! I was, after all, a freelancer and if I wouldn’t get a job here in the future, there would be other colleges and universities that I could offer my services to.
I wouldn’t and couldn’t stand for this ridiculousness."