“Malicious compliance” refers to the act of intentionally following a request or rule in a way that is technically correct but causes problems or disruption. In the context of the popular subreddit r/maliciouscompliance, it seems that instances of malicious compliance that occur in a work setting are particularly popular or highly regarded.
Consider this: the story satisfies the desire for justice that many people who are critical of the system have, while also demonstrating that ordinary individuals have the ability to assert their power against a corporation that has gone too far. Moreover, the protagonist does it all without breaking any rules, so the boss is powerless to stop them.
The more straightforward the request, the more satisfying it is when it is fulfilled. For example, in this case, an employee’s boss demands that they adhere to the company’s 9 to 6 policy, even though the employee had already worked 4 hours of overtime that week and was allowed to leave 10 minutes early as a result. However, it seems that the boss was not willing to make this exception. In that case, the employee can accept the decision and move on.
It seems that some managers have an issue with employees leaving work 10 minutes early, despite the fact that they have already worked several hours of overtime earlier in the week.
Redditor u/aineslis shared a story with the r/MaliciousCompliance community about their experience working in banking in Europe. The job involved unpaid overtime, which was expected and generally accepted by employees.
However, the manager was strict about keeping track of schedules, even though the nature of the work made it seem like a more flexible approach to timekeeping would be appropriate.
Despite the strictness of the manager, the employee found a way to have some fun by engaging in malicious compliance.
The employee’s assertive and confident personality also contributed to the tension with their senior manager. This came to a head when, after working an additional 4 hours to complete tasks, the employee left work 10 minutes early later that same week. The employee was called in for a meeting with the manager and senior manager on the following Monday, during which they were confronted about the early departure and told that they needed permission to leave early.
At first, the employee thought this was a joke, but it became clear that the request was serious. The employee was told that their work hours were from 9 to 6 and that they were not allowed to leave a minute earlier or later. In response, the employee decided to engage in malicious compliance.
A Reddit user was reprimanded by their employer for leaving work 10 minutes early, even though they had already worked 4 hours of unpaid overtime that week and had the impression that the company was flexible with timekeeping.
At some point, the employee had to attend a meeting that was considered important. They arrived promptly at 9 o’clock as instructed. Management had already noticed some behaviors that they considered unusual in the employee, which went against the toxic but loyal work ethic that was expected.
After being reprimanded, the employee decided that they would comply with the 9 to 6 rules in a more deliberate and intentional manner, potentially even with a hint of malicious intent.
Even though the employee was trying to establish a better balance between their work and personal life, it was clear during an evening meeting that they were closely monitoring the time as it approached 6 PM.
Friday arrived, and with it came a meeting that was expected to run longer than expected – a perfect opportunity for the employee to demonstrate their commitment to the 9 to 6 rule.
As the time approached 6 PM, the employee spoke up and announced that their workday was over. One of the managers stopped in surprise to hear what the employee had to say. “It’s 6 PM here. My day is over. As per my management, my working hours are 9 AM to 6 PM, so I must leave now. Have a great weekend, and we’ll catch up on Monday!” With that, the employee ended the meeting and left the building at 6:04 PM.
The employee’s boss and senior boss (both of whom were present at the disciplinary meeting for about 10 minutes) were shocked by what had happened. It was “a glorious sight” for the employee to see them staring in disbelief as they left. The employee had even considered apologizing for staying 4 minutes over the allotted work time frame but decided that it would be too passive-aggressive, so they simply left.
As soon as the meeting began, the employee kept a close eye on the clock, eager to ensure that they left as soon as the time reached 6PM.
After this incident, nobody mentioned it again, and those who worked closely with the employee learned that they could not expect them to work 10+ hour shifts anymore. As a result, changes were made, such as moving end-of-month reporting processes earlier in the month so that there would be work for the employee to discuss in meetings.
This outcome was seen as a win by Redditors, who appreciated the satisfying resolution to the story and the fact that it actually made a difference, improving the employee’s relationship with their coworkers and the efficiency of reporting processes.
As soon as the clock struck 6 PM, the employee interrupted the speaker, announced that they were leaving, and promptly did so, much to the surprise of management.
Commenters shared their own stories of establishing a better work-life balance or engaging in malicious compliance with work schedules. Others discussed the prevalence of overtime in a corporate world where people are aware of their rights and consider the circumstances before deciding whether to work extra hours.
The post received over 30,000 upvotes, with 96% of votes being positive, and received over 80 Reddit awards. You can read the original post and all the comments here.