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The unwritten rules of office life that you will be exiled forever for breaking


OFFICES are back, and with them the threat of being a pariah for life if you dare violate their unwritten and unspoken rules. Watch out for these: 

Never attempt genuine communication

When someone asks on Monday how your weekend was, they’re just being polite. No one gives a tiny flying f**k that you ran a 5k, babysat your nephew or went for a woodland walk. They only know your name because they have to. The single acceptable reply is ‘Fine, how was yours?’ after which you don’t listen to the answer.

Never clean the mould mug

There’s a mug in the office kitchen with an inch of blue mould in it. Do not clean it. Do not attempt to find out whose it is. It’s been there for years and is now unofficially a holy relic that delivers strong Q4 results. Its owner is probably dead.

Never organise the tea rota

Being the boss of a FTSE 100 company means working 14-hour days seven days a week. But it’s nothing compared to organising a tea rota for 16 people. Who hasn’t paid their £1 a week? Who’s petty for asking? Who lied about buying the milk? Who’s moaning about the biscuits even though they’re Hob-Nobs?

Accept that whoever sits by the printer is the printer engineer

‘The paper’s jammed,’ bleats Taylor from accounts, like a lost goat. If you’re nearest? It’s your problem. By proximity alone you have become the only person who can change paper, replace toner or restart the f**king thing. You are the printer engineer, with the minor difference that you’re not paid £16.50 an hour like a professional.

When sending an email, walk over to the recipient’s desk to tell them

‘I’ve just pinged you an email’, says Emma, while hovering over your shoulder waiting for you to open the email and then discuss it with her. That’s not how emails work, Emma. You send an email, then you f**king sit tight and the reply comes when all proper work is finished.

The days you need to finish on time are the days you work late

Theatre tickets? Date night? Need to get away at 5pm sharp? Your boss has other ideas. He needs that report finishing. The one that could be done any time in the next two weeks, except he needs it tonight. Because the whole point of offices is to extract a blood price and break you. Welcome back.



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