The Office first premiered on the BBC in 2001, but four years later, the show was remade as a U.S. sitcom starring Steve Carell as a regional manager of a company called Dunder Mifflin. Dunder Mifflin was a paper company that would be used as the basis for the fake documentary called, The Office: An American Workplace. One wouldn’t think that a documentary about a paper company would be very interesting, but the employees at the Scranton Branch weren’t like average office workers. The characters often got into hijinks that would get most people fired, but characters on The Office seemed to get away with way more than they should have.
Like any other company, Dunder Mifflin has strict policies, but at the Scranton Branch, these rules aren’t always enforced. While the characters don’t get in trouble very often, there are some rules that aren’t allowed to be broken and are heavily enforced. And while some of the characters on the show follow the company’s policies better than others, all of the characters broke the rules at one point or another. So, without further ado, here is The Office: 10 Rules Dunder Mifflin Employees Are Forced To Follow (And 15 They Always Break).
25 Always Break: Coming In Late/ Leaving Early
In almost all workplaces, companies have strict rules about coming in and leaving late. While it seems like the workday at Dunder Mifflin goes from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, people regularly come and go as they please. There are a number of episodes where employees come in long past 9:00 AM and leave before 5:00 PM.
Michael Scott lets his employees leave early on a regular basis, which may be nice for the employees, but is certainly against corporate policy. Even when Michael doesn’t approve it, the employees often just leave when they please. One time, the entire office even changed all of the clocks in the office and in Michael’s car to convince him it was 5:00 PM, just so that they could go home early.
24 Always Break: No Weapons At Work
Anybody who has seen The Office knows that only one employee at the Scranton Branch breaks this rule. In one episode, it was established that Dwight has hidden an array of weapons around the office, including everything from knives to a blow dart gun.
While many wouldn’t feel comfortable having this many weapons around their workplace, Dwight uses them to protect his coworkers, and even saved Jim from being attacked by Roy using pepper spray. That being said, he did accidentally fire a gun in the office in later seasons, so the “no weapons in the workplace rule” is probably there for a reason.
23 Forced To Follow: Reporting A Relationship To HR
While having an office relationship is not against the rules of Dunder Mifflin, keeping a relationship hidden is. Several employees at the Dunder Mifflin Scranton Branch had started workplace relationships, but all of them had to report their relationship to HR.
When Michael began having a serious relationship with his boss Jan Levinson, even he had to fill out a report with HR, only Michael thought of it as a love contract rather than a Dunder Mifflin formality. The only exception to this rule would be Dwight and Angela, but they broke many other rules besides reporting their relationship to HR.
22 Always Break: PDA In The Workplace
PDA, public displays of affection, often makes people uncomfortable, and not just in the fictional world of The Office. Dunder Mifflin definitely has corporate policies against PDA, and the series even dedicated an entire episode to the problem in season 7.
While Michael and Holly’s relationship was the basis for the episode, they were hardly the first people to act inappropriately at work. Angela and Dwight, Angela and Andy, Jan and Michael, Ryan and Kelly, and even Pam and Jim all displayed some sort of PDA while in the workplace.
21 Always Break: Talking Bad About Sabre
The Office saw a big change in season 6 when Sabre bought out Dunder Mifflin. Not only did the employees have a new boss, but they also had to start selling printers, and eventually, a pyramid tablet and an arrowhead phone. While the phones and tablets were obviously a bad idea even for 2010, it is quickly established that the Sabre printers are also lousy products that can even cause fires.
Despite Sabre’s poorly made products, Gabe makes a big deal when he finds out that employees are talking bad about Sabre. Even though it is against company policy, the employees continue to bash Sabre and even make a game out of it.
20 Forced To Follow: Being Interviewed For The Documentary
From the very beginning of the series, it was clear that the employees were being recorded for a documentary. While it isn’t specifically talked about on the show, it is likely that the employees had to sign some type of document giving the filmmakers the right to use footage of them for the documentary.
That being said, it was also likely that the employees were forced to sit down for interviews. And even though the characters sometimes stormed off in the middle of interviews, they still had to be interviewed, no matter how bad of a day they were having.
19 Always Break: Goofing Off At Work
Working at a paper company is probably pretty boring in real life, but working at Dunder Mifflin seems to be fun since everyone always goofs off at work. Most of the show isn’t about the employees doing their job, but instead, doing the complete opposite.
Jim always seems to prank Dwight, which surely would have gotten him fired in real life. He even got everybody to stop working for a whole day to take part in the Office Olympics. Jim’s work ethic is addressed in later seasons, but he isn’t the only person who slacks off at work.
18 Always Break: Hounding Employees
Michael Scott’s personality and unique management style make him stand out from other bosses, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. While fans of The Office no doubt laugh at Michael’s actions, he would really be a hassle to work with in real life. One of the reasons he would be hard to work with is because he constantly bothers employees based on their ethnicity, orientation preferences, or hobbies.
While Michael usually makes fun of people as a joke rather than with malicious intent, it is clear that he is breaking Dunder Mifflin’s policies since Toby is always on him about the things he says.
17 Forced To Follow: Attending Meetings
Dunder Mifflin employees might break a lot of rules, but one rule they are always forced to follow is attending meetings. Michael calls all of his employees into the conference room for the littlest of things, but it is expected that everyone attends the meeting regardless. Even when the meeting has nothing to do with work, everyone packs into the conference room to hear what their boss has to say.
Employees have no doubt walked out of meetings before, and Stanley even got in big trouble once for disrespecting Michael during a meeting, but the employees still attend Michael’s pointless meetings.
16 Always Break: Drinking At Parties
Early on in the series, it was established that Dunder Mifflin does not allow bottled beverages to be served at office Christmas parties. Many companies in real life follow this rule, but the Scranton Branch seems to have these beverages at nearly every party that is thrown.
Michael started this trend when he bought fifteen bottles of the stuff for Christmas, but since then, all of the parties have included it. Karen and Pam even throw a party in the break room one Christmas that involved karaoke and drinks.
15 Always Break: Ignoring HR Complaints
Big companies like Dunder Mifflin have an HR department for a reason, but Toby doesn’t do his job very often. Despite many people filing complaints with HR, Toby rarely fixes these problems. While Toby doesn’t do his job, it isn’t all his fault as Michael should be working with him to fix workplace concerns.
Needless to say, these complaints could have made life easier at Dunder Mifflin, but Michael and Toby didn’t do their jobs, making life way harder for employees than it needed to be. However, the show probably wouldn’t have been nearly as funny if this rule was followed.
14 Forced To Follow: Not Using The Baler
In early seasons of The Office, the baler becomes sort of a fascination for Michael Scott. When Darryl Philbin was the warehouse foreman, he was very strict on how the warehouse was run, and often worried when Michael would come downstairs to visit. Michael has trashed the warehouse on more than one occasion, but the one thing he was never allowed to do was use the baler.
Even when he asked Darryl to use the machine on his final day at Dunder Mifflin, he was told no. That being said, Michael was never allowed to use it, but Kevin was lucky enough to put some bubble wrap in the machine in one of the episodes.
13 Always Break: Taking Long Lunches
There’s no denying that the employees of Dunder Mifflin only work a fraction of the amount of time they are supposed to. One of the reasons for this is because people often take long lunch breaks. For instance, Phyllis would often take two-hour lunch breaks to go and eat with her husband Bob Vance, from Vance Refrigeration.
In another episode, Jim and Pam go on a long lunch break and even come back to work impaired due to the restaurant having a bottomless beverage policy. Taking a long lunch break once in a while isn’t that big of a deal, but it happens often with the employees of Dunder Mifflin.
12 Always Break: Going Past The Commission Cap
For the longest time, the sales team at Dunder Mifflin could make a ton of money off of commissions, but after Sabre bought the company, they introduced a commission cap. This new corporate policy made Jim lose his incentive to work since he was basically working for nothing, although he eventually found a way around this rule.
Jim and Dwight created a fictional salesman named Lloyd Gross so that they could go past the commission cap and split the extra commission. Pam even created an illustration of Lloyd that combined the facial features of everyone in the office.
11 Forced To Follow: Attending The Dundies
Michael Scott doesn’t seem to enforce many rules at the Scranton Branch, but one rule he seems to have is attending the Dundies. While Michael makes it seem like attending is optional, all of the office members usually attend the ceremony. The awards ceremony is seen a handful of times during the show, and Michael even tries to get Deangelo Vickers to take over as host after he leaves.
During the 14th Dundies Awards, everyone plays along, even though many of the awards are insulting, since it is Michael’s last year. The Dundies are in no way a corporate policy, but they seem to be a rule that the employees of the Scranton Branch seem to follow.
10 Always Break: Defacing Company Property
In any workplace, defacing company property is a big no-no. In real life, it can often lead to someone getting fired or the company taking legal action against the employee. That being said, at Dunder Mifflin, the rule is often ignored with Andy Bernard usually being at the center of the issue.
Due to Andy’s anger, he made a hole in the wall at the office twice and even purposely broke his computer so that Pam would have to buy him a new one. Also, in the episode “Suit Warehouse,” several office members get a rush from drinking too much espresso and decide to tear up the carpet in the office.
9 Always Break: Forwarding Improper Emails
Since selling paper, and eventually, printers, are the main jobs of the office employees, the Internet and email are crucial parts of their everyday lives. However, the employees often use their computers for non-work related activities.
Employees often receive improper emails from Michael as a joke, and he encourages others to forward him funny emails as well. The employees even forward a picture of Michael and Jan in Jamaica around the office and warehouse, which was surely against corporate policy since it involved two of their bosses.
8 Forced To Follow: Throwing Parties For Employees
Michael loves working for the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, but he also loves having birthday parties for all of his employees. Michael makes sure each employee gets a birthday party thrown for them, which often takes away from the employees doing their actual work.
Even though Michael seems to enforce the birthday party rule, most of his employees don’t seem to mind because they get a break from work. Jim even tries to implement a rule that would combine everyone’s birthdays into one party, but the idea was rejected by almost everyone in the office.
7 Forced To Follow: Always Wearing Their Microphones
Since the workers at the Scranton Branch agreed to be in a documentary, one of the rules they likely had to follow was to wear their mics at all times when they were at work. The documentary crew was able to catch basically everything that happened at the Scranton Branch for nine years, since they were always recording audio and video.
Even when the employees were talking in private, like Dwight and Angela, the crew was still able to pick up their audio, which several employees seemed to forget.
6 Always Break: Workplace Attire
Many companies have policies in place that enforce certain dress codes at work. While the employees of Dunder Mifflin don’t really have a uniform, they are expected to dress appropriately when they come to work. However, this rule is often broken by different employees throughout the series.
For instance, Halloween parties usually got out of hand since people didn't always wear costumes that would be considered work-appropriate. Michael Scott even dressed up in a woman’s suit one time, but that was just a hilarious accident on his part.
5 Forced To Follow: Going On Sales Calls
There aren’t very many rules that members of Dunder Mifflin are truly forced to follow, but the employees are forced to go on sales calls on a regular basis. Going on sales calls is one of the main ways the company brings in new clients and it also provided viewers with an episode that partly takes place outside of the office.
These sales calls don’t always go according to plan, but the sales team is forced to go regardless. This rule is so heavily enforced that Stanley was knocked out and taken to a sales call when he refused to walk down the stairs again.
4 Always Break: Starting Office Gossip
It is common sense that it is never a good idea to start gossip, especially at work. However, the employees of Dunder Mifflin sure do break this rule a lot. While Kelly Kapoor is considered to be the queen of gossip, other members of the office get in on the action as well.
Michael Scott is also responsible for spreading a lot of gossip around the office, although he never intends for it to hurt his employees, except for Toby. Even Angela Martin spreads gossip around the office through her cold and condescending attitude.
3 Forced To Follow: Filing Complaints With HR
Even though Toby and Michael never do anything about the complaints that are filed with HR, that doesn’t stop the employees from filing complaints. It is established in the show that several people in the office still follow the protocol of filing complaints against their fellow employees, but it often does nothing to fix the situation.
In the episode “Conflict Resolution” in season 2, several of these complaints are surfaced, but it only causes more issues between employees since the issues had already been laid to rest.
2 Always Break: Eating Other People's Food
In any office setting, it’s an unwritten workplace rule that you shouldn’t eat other people’s food in the fridge. People in The Office usually bring their own lunches to eat at work rather than going out for food, but that doesn’t stop others from eating food that isn’t theirs.
When Andy goes on his boat cruise, Kevin sneaks a sip of his “chunky lemon milk” every day for three months, which is really just expired milk. In another episode, Michael gets mad at his employees and proceeds to eat their lunches that are in the fridge.
1 Forced To Follow: Answering The Phone
rule the employees are forced to follow is answering the phones. The receptionist is often the person that answers the phone, but people can also call salesmen on their direct lines. This is one of the main ways Dunder Mifflin gets clients to buy paper, so it is extremely important to answer the phones.
Sometimes, Michael tells people to ignore calls during his pointless meetings, but for the most part, answering the phones at Dunder Mifflin is a rule the employees are forced to follow.
Are there any other rules the employees in The Office always follow or break? Sound off in the comments!