ridiculous workplace rules are stifling creativity

No beards or stubble!

No hats! (…even in the winter)

Drink only from tiny little cups!

A blanket ban on biscuits ☹

by Caroline Roodhouse

We were intrigued by this recent article from The Telegraph all about weird workplace rules. And it seems there really is no shortage of examples!

We’ve started to get quite concerned that, whilst being so utterly bonkers they had us in stitches, these ridiculous rules could actually be stifling creativity at work. You see, unnecessary bureaucracy and redundant red tape cause major frustration for employees.

And workers often blame absurd rules as the main impediment to productivity. Which in turn can be a creativity killer.

To encourage creative thinking, employees need to feel that their ideas are valued and welcomed. In a culture where silly rules are abundant, employees aren’t likely to open up and that’s when engagement levels can begin to plummet. It’s crucial to avoid a judgmental attitude from above, removing unnecessary regulations wherever possible.

We thought we’d do a bit of research to find more crazy cases of workplace rules that are crushing creativity.

Can. Of. Worms. The mind boggles. We came across some frightening examples…

- Employees banned from speaking to colleagues without prior management approval.

- Several cases of managers insisting that ALL presentations are delivered in Powerpoint.

- NO music. Even in the company car.

- Absolutely NO popcorn. Whatsoever.

- Timed toilet breaks.

- No desk moving.

- Employees restricted to cumbersome and antiquated expenses forms.

- A ‘3 points of contact rule’ for walking up and down stairs. 

- Enforcing farcical, pointless and seemingly endless daily meetings.

Now that last one is particularly rife. We know that meetings are an essential communication form in organisations, yet they are universally reviled. Nearly 45% of leaders and managers believe that meetings accomplish nothing, according to a recent survey. We mustn’t bin the idea of meetings altogether, that would be silly, but perhaps something needs to change to make them more effective, compelling and meaningful, encouraging employees to share their fantastic thoughts and ideas!

And perhaps it’s worth reconsidering some of those crazy, out of date policies and frankly ridiculous rules! Instead, why not try a different approach. Consider some creative alternatives - BYOD practices that open up new technology avenues, long overdue rewrites of policies to refresh workplace procedures and introduce internal social media tools designed to encourage employees to vent concerns or frustrations. After all, we know that employees will be sharing their gripes and groans behind closed doors - encouraging them to be aired in a constructive and positive way will enable you to understand and act on them, demonstrating an open, proactive culture and encouraging the sharing of new ideas.

In conclusion

We’re not suggesting a rulebook mutiny or an all-out abandonment of the policy manual (particularly when health and safety issues are at stake). But give some thought to how you could help creativity to flourish if certain stipulations were somewhat slackened. And for those rules that must be applied, make sure that employees understand why.

Tweet us, @Alivewithideas with your thoughts, examples of your ludicrous workplace rules or stories about creativity flourishing when sense has finally been seen!

image via Alive With Ideas