unexpected tasks at work

Monday Morning

Monday morning arrives quicker every week it seems. Especially so if you’ve got a job you don’t love.

I guess most of us have a job to pay the bills above anything else but a little job satisfaction goes a long way. I never pretend my office job is anything other than boring but, it’s with the family business and a lot of days I get to kill more than one bird with one stone as the office is based at my parents’ home.

Whether it be sneaking time with my darling nephew, being sent shopping with my mum, scheduling blog posts on the work pc, or, turning up late more often than not…I get away with much more than I ever could in any other work environment so dull number-crunching is the least of my worries!

I was recently sent a list of 50 unexpected tasks people have been given at work. A lot seem quite normal for me but I suppose it’s all dependent on your official job description!

The survey was put together by SPANA, a working animal charity, to highlight the fact that humans get more choice in their working lives than animals.

SPANA believes that a life of work should never mean a life of suffering, and our mission is to improve the welfare of working animals in the world’s poorest communities. They aim to do this through treatment, training and teaching. SPANA

See if any of these are familiar in your working day:


  1. Sweep the floors
  2. Cleaning toilets
  3. Clearing up rubbish
  4. Feeding animals
  5. Unknotting Christmas lights
  6. Cuddle someone
  7. Type phone contacts into a spreadsheet
  8. Removing hair from hairbrushes
  9. Stack books
  10. Play computer games
  11. Pack and stack boxes
  12. Erecting fences
  13. Wash people’s hair
  14. Plan a wedding
  15. Soak and peel the labels off bottles
  16. Cut pre-made sandwiches into triangles
  17. Peel the pith from satsuma segments
  18. Shredding paper manually due to a broken-down shredder
  19. Polish cutlery with vinegar
  20. Hand grating massive bowls of cheese
  21. Attaching security tags / labels to products
  22. Teach English to foreign colleagues
  23. Remove stitches
  24. Taste testing
  25. Separating security pins from tags
  26. Dressing up as a cartoon character
  27. Stacking coat hangers
  28. Dust books with a paintbrush
  29. Dress in a sandwich board in public
  30. Wear fake tan and wax chest
  31. Wear revealing or indecent clothes to model in
  32. Packing fish
  33. Do all the boss’s Christmas shopping
  34. Cleaning the top of changing room mirrors
  35. Stuff crackers
  36. Colour separate skittles / sweets
  37. Being a Sports mascot
  38. Remove poo from swimming pools
  39. Cleaning up road kill
  40. Post false good comments about the company online
  41. Fire someone, even though it wasn’t your place to do so
  42. Fill donuts with jam
  43. Chopping the heads off kippers
  44. Write Christmas card jokes
  45. Eat dog food
  46. Delete all emails and files from the boss’s computer
  47. Pose as a member of the opposite sex for the day
  48. Spy on senior management
  49. Buy underwear for the boss’s wife
  50. Stand in a line pretending to queue for the sales

I have to say most of them just seem like part of a working day in some careers. Probably not careers I’d choose for myself, but, someone has to fill doughnuts with jam and clean the toilets. All I hope is that it isn’t the same person on both of those tasks!

2000 workers across the UK were asked about unusual or inappropriate requests from their bosses and some answers were indeed strange…

*Researchers found requests from the boss sometimes go from the sublime to the ridiculous – one unlucky respondent revealed they were asked to follow another member of staff who left work, as the boss suspected that rather than being ill, he was off to the pub.

Another, during their military career, was tasked with ironing ordnance survey maps simply so they would lie flat on the wall.

And a third was asked to work overtime to allow another colleague to nip home and make love – as his partner was at the fertile point in her month.

Jeremy Hulme, Chief Executive of working animal charity SPANA, which conducted the study, said: “It’s surprising to see just how many British workers are routinely expected to carry out tasks that are a long way from their job description and that they didn’t sign up for. Many bosses seem comfortable asking their staff to perform duties that are bizarre and beyond the call of duty.

“However, although having to fulfil menial or unusual tasks can be a frustrating part of working life in the UK, these problems seem very minor compared to the tough working conditions endured every day by working animals in developing countries. These animals work long hours, often carrying back-breaking loads, with no holidays, retirement or sick days.”

A number of people surveyed have been asked to clean the toilets or sweep the floors at work, which were widely seen as unreasonable and unexpected requests in non-cleaning roles.

The study revealed one unfortunate respondent was asked to clean her boss’ house as his wife had left him, and his sister was coming to visit.

Another was asked to babysit a colleague’s children while continuing with their normal workload, while one ‘kind’ boss asked two staff members to dress up as the Easter bunny and deliver Easter eggs to all the other workers.

Dressing up as a cyber dog for the local library and dressing up as a tomato to hand out leaflets were low points for other respondents.

One in 10 people say they currently work in a job where they are asked to carry out bizarre tasks – which include parading around in underwear, watching people sleep and creating sugar cube castles.

But 13 per cent of employees have been so disgruntled about the work they were being asked to do, as the tasks were too far removed from their job description, they’ve left the job.

Jeremy Hulme continues: “The good news is that the majority of people do have a choice, and if a job becomes too inappropriate, difficult or stressful, they can often leave or do something about it.

“That’s the difference between working people in Britain and working animals abroad, which have no choice. We need to support these working horses, donkeys, camels and other animals to improve their conditions and ensure they have the vet care they need when they are sick or injured.”*

Are any of the top 50 tasks part of your day to day work role? I suspect a few people would secretly relish a break from the norm in the 9 to 5 but what do you think?

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve been asked to do as part of a job?


*some info provided by SWNS 

**photo credit: clement127 Working via photopin (license)

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