With any good luck, right now you’re reading this in a desperate attempt to escape from a drab, soul-crushing working existence. If you’re just a little luckier, then the reason you’re using this as an escape is because you work in a place with really, really dumb rules. Like the rule that says we have to drive slow in school zones when children are present. I mean seriously, how are these kids ever supposed to get 60 minutes of exercise a day if we don’t scare them into running a little bit from time to time?
However, it’s possible that you don’t work in a place with dumb rules. It’s possible that you work somewhere that trusts its people to do the right thing, a place that realizes there are several right ways to find a solution to a given problem. If you do, then you work for people who probably think rules are meant to broken.
But I respectfully disagree. Rules are meant to be mocked. And I know you want to be mocked.
So here you go, a few simple strategies to consider when creating your own office rules. Hopefully you’re doing some of these already!
Make Everyone Do Everything The Exactly Same Way! Human beings are like snowflakes, but office workers are like cloned sheep – uniformly identical and incapable of taking care of themselves. Which is why your rules should force everyone to operate in exactly the same way. Possibilities include requiring everyone to use the same kinds of electronic devices (while definitely denying Internet access to anyone foolish enough to bring their own phone or tablet into the office), or making everyone sit in the same kind of chair. The more minute and unimportant the issue – like ‘type o’ chair,’ for example – the more important it is for you to make a rule about it.
Ignore Technological Advances in Favor of Paper Forms! It’s possible that you’ve heard of things called apps which are reputedly helpful in reducing the typical worker’s paper load. You might have even seen advertisements on your pocket-sized cellular telephone encouraging you to download some of these so-called apps. Well, I’m here to assure you that no such thing exists. Apps are the same as they’ve always been, presented on a little plate about 10 minutes before the entrée comes. Which means that when it comes to asking your employees to submit travel receipts or collaborate on projects, you should not give them the ability to use mythical apps like Mint.com or bloghub or Google Docs. People used to be forced to share a single office scanner to carefully scan in their receipts, and that gave people a chance to get to know one another better. If you give them the ability to use apps to minimize their workload, you’ll really just be making them sad and lonely. And sad, lonely cloned sheep don’t produce very good wool.
When In Doubt, Overkill! I’m sure you’ve seen a few action movies where the hero vanquishes the villain with a single, well-placed blow. But I’m sure you seen more movies where the hero pummels the crap out of the villain during an epic fight sequence that finally sees the villain ground into a gummy, soupy pulp – and that’s what you should do to your employees! One of the most recent titans of this approach is UBS, which created a 44-page dress code manual (you read that right, 44 pages) to let people know what color socks they could wear, how to repair panty hose, and what to wear when accepting invitations to the sauna with Russian clients. And if you think I’m kidding, you should look it up for yourself. If your office rules are not similarly overwhelming in scope and detail, you aren’t trying hard enough. Keep adding layers until people can’t even download a pdf of your guidelines without crashing your company servers. I believe in you!
Thanks for reading. Now get back to the work you’ve been ignoring. I hope it’s filled with redundancies, lots of paper, and someone at the end of all of it who will quibble with you about the fact that you’re submitting everything in the wrong font. Because if there’s anything I’m sure you’re dying to hear today, it’s “That’s not our policy.”
What’s the stupidest office rule you’ve ever heard?