This week’s Silly Sunday is on silly rules and customs in the office, another ranking survey from goo Ranking. The fieldwork was conducted over the 24th and 25th of October 2007, but no demographic information was given, nor was there a breakdown by sex, sadly.

At my workplace, I wish they’d quit doing 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 11, 12, 15, and 27.

For those of you who haven’t worked in Japan, perhaps a few of these options need to be explained. Number 6 and number 9 usually feature together (we actually have lunchtime meetings at my workplace); everyone gathers together, one person (rotated every day) reads the company precepts, then everyone repeats after him or her. Next, the person whose turn it is tells a story perhaps related to work, perhaps not. Other companies may also have pep talks from the boss. Actually, I do think that morning meetings are to some degree useful; ours are relatively painless, barring the company motto reading, of course, and the singing of the company song, which thankfully is not compulsory!

Number 12 is interesting – every Friday after lunch we have to vacuum the office and empty the rubbish bins. I did once ask why we did that but all I got in reply was a blank state wondering why I would question such a thing. Indeed, we even had a suggestion from someone as part of our company-wide stinginess initiative that we should also clean the corridors to save paying cleaners’ wages, an idea demonstrating blissful unawareness of the hourly rate of a cleaner versus that of an engineer.

Oh, and you don’t want to get me started on the complexity of my employer’s internal systems…

Ranking results

Q: Which customs or rules at work would you most like to see stopped?

Rank   Score
1 “Service Zangyo”, unpaid overtime 100
2 Compulsory attendance at end of year and new year parties 70.8
3 Required participation in employee group travel 61.2
4 St Valentine’s Day, White Day customs 51.0
5 The seniority system 43.3
6 Morning meetings 40.4
7 Not non-smoking offices 38.5
8 Submission of daily reports 35.3
9 Recital of the company precepts 34.6
10 Must be at work at least 30 minutes before start of business 33.0
11 Far too many steps before things can get paid for 33.0
12 Cleaning rota 31.7
13 Can’t go home before boss 30.4
14 Tea-serving rota 29.2
15 Internal request systems are complex 27.6
16 Heaters or coolers stop outside regulation hours 27.2
17 Frequently have to entertain the boss 26.3
18 Limited number of web sites allowed, other internet restrictions 25.3
19 Fussy dress restrictions (no boots, nail art, etc) 25.0
20 Morning exercises 24.4
21 Titles, department names are too long 23.1
22 Compulsory uniform 21.8
23 Cannot dress Cool Biz style 21.8
24 Merit-based salary system 18.9
25 Lots of specialised company language 18.9
26 Private email, free email address usage forbidden, other email restrictions 17.6
27 Lunch hour fixed 17.6
28 Hair style, hair colouring rules 17.0
29 Must answer phone within one ring 16.7
30 Get company memento on employees’ birthdays 14.1


Hair Cut Style · February 10, 2009 at 17:56

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They do any thing for there hair care. Its a nice post about hair.

Misfit · January 26, 2012 at 23:04

I’m Japanese. All of these stupid rules should be abolished immediately. First of all, unpaid overtime work is against the law. If I lived in America, I would sue the company and make some good money. Japanese companies practices so many illegal things: overtime work, age and sex discrimination etc yet no one protests or sues. I believe it’s because we have trained to follow rules without questioning since the age of 6 at school. The majority of people are extremely stressed and depressed with overtime work, the seniority etc. But they don’t speak up. Japanese are rule/law followers, but that feature is taken advantage by their own people: Japanese companies. Haha how ironic…

merie · July 21, 2012 at 15:42

no.13?? oh no…totally stupid hahahah

Western management’s laziness and stupidity – killing the middle class. | quantiger - A sometimes snarky blog · August 14, 2013 at 03:26

[…] is a country where this isn’t allowed with such total impunity. Japan.  Oh, yes – Japanese bosses are idiots and assholes when it’s allowed. But it’s not as easy for them – because of their […]

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