Poll: Boss’s strangest requests

Researchers found requests from the boss sometimes go from the sublime to the ridiculous

Words courtesy: Hayley Richardson

EVER been asked by your boss to stalk another member of your team, or dress as a member of the opposite sex? What about untangling Christmas lights?

These are just some of the most bizarre tasks people have been given at work, new research reveals.

Peeling the pith from satsuma segments and stacking coat hangers are also up there in the top 50 list of weird asks assigned to employees.

Been asked to peel the pith from Satsumas? At #17 in  the poll it would appear many have!

The study of 2,000 workers across the country 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 have sex – as his partner was at her most fertile time of the month.

Doing all of the Boss’s Christmas shopping came in at #33

Other odd tasks include polishing cutlery with vinegar, shredding paper manually, removing hair from hairbrushes and dressing in a sandwich board in public.

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.

But some of the weird tasks British workers are asked to carry out are surprisingly common.

Feeding animals, separating security pins from tags and typing phone contacts into spreadsheets feature highly on the list of unusual jobs.

Playing computer games, cuddling someone and planning weddings are some of the nicer tasks to feature in the list, while removing poo from swimming pools, cleaning up road kill and cleaning toilets are among the more unsavoury jobs.

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, that they’ve left the job.

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.

“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.”


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