Should offices forget about rules and put more trust in staff?

Traditionally, workplaces have been built on certain rules. Clocking in at 9am and not leaving before 5pm, for example, or taking no more than an hour for lunch.

But as we enter a new era of flexibility and innovation in how businesses operate and how people work, is it time to say goodbye to those rules and restrictions that are no longer relevant, and to put more faith in staff to do the job that is expected of them?

According to a recent survey by online jobs board CV-Library, nearly four out of ten workplaces in the UK (37 per cent) have “ridiculous rules” in place. More than one in five workers (23 per cent) said these policies make them feel that their employer doesn’t trust them.

Of the 1,000 employees polled, nearly six out of ten (57 per cent) said they will disobey any workplace guidelines they consider to be “silly”.

Many of the unreasonable rules identified by CV-Library fell into certain categories, including dress codes, talking in the office and timekeeping.

Some of the workers surveyed revealed that they were expected to wear certain colours to match the company’s brand, while some workplaces continue to frown on women wearing trousers.

Discouraging employees from speaking out loud except for when they are in the staff room was also highlighted as a ridiculous rule, along with giving people a strict time frame to go to the toilet.

One respondent claimed their employer enforced a policy of docking pay by 15 minutes for any employee who arrived for work two minutes late, while another said they were not allowed to have drinks on their desk.

Discussing the research, Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, acknowledged that certain rules are important to ensure a certain level of professionalism and productivity in the workplace.

“That said, it’s clear that many of the rules highlighted in our research are just ridiculous,” he continued. “Employees want to feel trusted and while one workplace can differ massively to another, you have to treat your staff like adults – especially when it comes to being allowed to drink water and going to the toilet!”

It’s possible that we are entering a period of change in business methods, with some companies questioning the need for traditional, long-term office leases, for example, and opting for short-term workspace hire. This can offer the twin benefits of reduced costs and ultimate control and adaptability for the company.

Workers also appear to be attaching more significance to choice and autonomy in how they work, with concepts such as flexible working and an acceptable work/life balance becoming increasingly important.

In another recent survey by CV-Library, a third (33 per cent) of UK workers said employers should drop workplace dress codes. A similar number (37 per cent) felt the idea of dressing smartly for work has become outdated.


Posted by Julie Tucker


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