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Inc 5000 Great Places to Work

Next Time Things Get Bad, Just Be Glad You Don’t Work in These Cubicles

boss-cat-office-cubicleMost offices have rules: Arrive by a certain time, file your paperwork in this way, wear pants at meetings, and so. Most of the time, this is a good thing: without official policies, it’s hard to get a bunch of people facing the same direction at the same time. Sometimes, though, companies get a little out of control, and start making rules seemingly just for the fun of it. One such organization is the NYC Health Department.

Workers at the Department of Health (fittingly abbreviated “DOH!”) recently received a memo called “Guidelines for Life in the Cubicle Village.” Ostensibly, this was to smooth working relationships between employees at the department’s new offices in Long Island City. To us, though, it looks a lot like a manual for removing any traces of fun from the office.

Highlights from the memo, which isn’t available online in its entirety, include:

Cell phones must be kept on vibrate at all times. This would probably improve most offices. But on the other hand, employees at the DOH will miss out on the bonding experience of complaining with their neighbors about that one person’s Ke$ha ringtone.

No eating in your cube. As the memo notes, “What smells great to one person may not seem so delicious to another.” This is definitely true, as is the reminder that “crumbs and spills attract uninvited guests.” But on the other hand, not everyone enjoys the false camaraderie of the lunchroom. What if you just want to grab a quick bite without talking about everyone’s weekend? Do you have to eat in the bathroom, like in middle school?

Don’t wear perfumes. This is the first code of employee conduct we’ve read that includes prohibiting all products with “noticeable odors.” We’re envisioning a sniff test that could get very personal.

Get rid of photos. “To ensure that the workplace conveys our professionalism, avoid any displays, photos, cartoons, or other personal items that may be offensive to others.” This is just their way of saying that they think your kid is ugly, right? They’re totally judging your baby, and you shouldn’t stand for it. That’s workplace harassment.

Eavesdropping on conversations in neighboring cubicles is discouraged. And if you can’t control yourself, the memo urges, “at least resist the urge to add your comments.” Honestly, why even go to work then? If we can’t editorialize on our neighbors’ convos, we’d rather stay home.

Eat only what the DOH tells you to. Last but not least, the DOH announced an official menu for all company functions. Their creepy menu is heavy on the whole grains and veggies, light on soda and fried foods. (Way light. As in “not allowed at all.”)

Our favorite quote from the menu brochure has to be this one: “Keep portions small; cut breads and sandwiches into halves or quarters.” Thanks for the portion control advice, DOH. It’s like partying with your doctor.

The good news is, some non-water beverages are still allowed. But hey, if “flavored seltzer” or herbal tea doesn’t cut it, you can always wash down that hummus with your tears.

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