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I work at a large office park that has a university-like layout, with lawns around almost every building. In particular, there is a plot of grass between the parking lot and the front door to my building, represented in the image below. I frequently walk the blue path, but am somewhat self-conscious, since the entire wall of building A facing the lawn is offices with windows. I do not arrive at work at the exact same time as other people, so I haven't been able to see if other people take shortcuts like I do.

Do people perceive walking across grass like this 'less professional' than taking the long way, walking on the sidewalks? (Or is this just all in my head?)

Parking situation

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    unless there is a "do not walk on grass" warning, be happy and walk on the grass. – Max Nov 23 '16 at 17:53
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    Note: to see if other people are walking on the grass, look for worn paths. – Max Nov 23 '16 at 17:59
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    When Walt Disney first opened Disneyland, he deliberately omitted sidewalks. After a while, when the early visitors had worn ruts into the grass, he put sidewalks in, over the ruts. The ruts showed where the people WANTED to walk. – John R. Strohm Nov 23 '16 at 18:01
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    @JohnR.Strohm thats great when your custom is driven by voluntary visitors - however, at a workplace a manicured lawn in front of the building may have more value than a 30 second quicker route for staff etc. – Moo Nov 23 '16 at 18:28
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    You're overthinking it. – A E Nov 23 '16 at 18:28
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As a rule, you never go wrong sticking to the path. Unless you hear otherwise, stick to the path. While it varies from company to company, if they do think it's unprofessional, the company in question may think it's a very big deal.

The only way to be sure is to ask.

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    It depends. If the OP's cover letter for the job said they were a trailblazing employee with a relentless focus on efficiency, then won't the company kind of be getting what they asked for? – user45590 Nov 24 '16 at 9:26
  • @dan1111 Walking over grass might mean that field needs more maintaince. fastest route is not always the more efficient route. – Jeroen Nov 24 '16 at 10:04
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    p.s. one thing I like about this answer is that it would probably be a valid answer for most questions on this site. – user45590 Nov 24 '16 at 16:59
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Another thing to consider, apart from the possible damage to the lawn and the look for walking across the lawn, is the way people may perceive you if you have mud on your shoes/trousers. Walking on a lawn would give you a higher chance of causing your wear for the day to get dirty, which some people may look down upon.

Would you feel someone with mud on their shoes could be considered professional or point to something else? So why save a minute when you would be safer just walking around the lawn?

  • Mud is one thing.... – Jan Doggen Nov 24 '16 at 13:13
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Just ask your HR department to clarify the companies position - it may indeed be perfectly acceptable in summer with the company encouraging picnics etc, and a death sentence in winter due to the muck you will bring in.

As for whether its "unprofessional" or not, there is no definitive answer to that, as there is no one single definition of "professional" that would cover this. As some commenters suggest, it may be seen as lazy, but some managers may even see it as "optimisation".

The only real correct answer is the one that comes from someone in the company who has the authority to make a yay-or-nay call.

  • Just what exactly are people finding so offensive about this answer that its been downvoted three times without explanation? "Go ask someone with authority" is exactly what someone should be doing in this circumstance. So why the downvotes? – Moo Nov 24 '16 at 16:51
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If it's seen as unprofessional is very company specific. I mean what exactly is it? Is it the genius finding the shortest, most optimized solution, or is it the lazy guy taking forbidden shortcuts? We cannot read your colleagues minds.

However, I would like to point out another thing that impacts your professional life: insurances. Most countries have insurances covering accidents. The land owner of the property is responsible for keeping it safe. If there is a designated way to reach the front door and the facility manager is walking in every day on this way, you could say the property owner has provided a safe environment inspected daily. Now if you take the shortcut and slip, why would the property owner's insurance pay? The walkway was clean and inspected, the grass maybe had hidden mole-holes, was slippery when wet and not free of ice or snow when cold. You chose the more dangerous way on your own, the insurance lawyer will have a field day in court. People don't plan on having accidents, but they still happen. You will have to weight the risks.

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It's a given that too many people stomping the lawn will kill it.

Check with your own HR, which should be able to check with the office complex's landlord's representative or agent whether you are allowed to walk on the lawn.

If your HR organizes company functions on the lawn, they should know whether you are allowed to walk on the lawn.

Every office complex should have a property manager, who acts as a representative and agent of the landlord. That property manager should know whether it's allowed to walk on the lawn and under what circumstances.

  • @dan1111 the question was 'Do people perceive walking across grass like this 'less professional' than taking the long way, walking on the sidewalks?' I hate it when people use the word "professional" to mean something else including "appropriate" having said that. So what if your reputation at the company gets harmed if you ask the question, what if HR going to do to you for asking the question? I'd phrase the question as "I want to cut through the grass because I like walking on the lawn and it's a shortcut. But I don't want to step on anyone's toes. Is it okay with you if I do it?" – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 24 '16 at 10:03
  • Personally, I'd walk the extra distance and call it "exercise". On one level, I am irritated that the OP is overthinking it and asking such an apparently trivial question. On another, I think it's considerate and appropriate of him that he asks that trivial question in the first place because 149 of his compadres are probably simply walking on the lawn and killing the grass, even as we speak, and they just don't give a shit. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 24 '16 at 10:08
  • @dan1111 if you are unwilling to ask the appropriate person, and its also not obvious that something is allowed, then why not simply default to the safe answer - dont walk on the grass? I dont see why asking a simple question to HR should evoke a fear-for-their-career in some people... you arent going to get a catch all answer here, the real answer lies with the company, so ask them. – Moo Nov 24 '16 at 16:54
  • @dan1111 if that sort of question makes you worry that you look silly with that company, then you should seek better employment. This is exactly the sort of trivial thing HR don't mind getting - if they get a few queries of the same nature, then its obviously an oft wondered question and they can issue a company wide update informing everyone. Its the HR-initiated stuff which HR hates, they would much rather you asked them a stupid question than having it escalate to an informal chat or worse. – Moo Nov 24 '16 at 17:01
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    @Dan1111 - "Coming to HR with the question "Can I walk across the grass to save 10 seconds as I walk up to the building?" makes you look silly in my opinion" Yes, it does make you silly because you ask the question in a way that makes you look silly. There are many ways of asking - WHY the hell do you persist in asking questions in a way that makes you look silly? – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 24 '16 at 18:11
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Don't take a shortcut across the lawn. That is selfish (in the most objective definition of the word). People / companies spent time and money making the surrounding area beautiful. It is hard enough to preserve our environment without people going "off trail" and destroying what was created.

There are a series of principles known as Leave No Trace. The concept is that we should attempt to leave as little trace of our existence on Earth as possible in order to preserve the greater environment for both the natural (non-human) world and future humans. This method of conservation involves a seven point program of principles to follow.

Although Leave No Trace is often applied in the Back Country (i.e. backpacking) there is no reason why it cannot be followed in the Front Country (i.e. likely where you are reading this!).

The concept of conservation does not have to be put into "liberal" or "conservative". It can be thought of merely as are you consuming something that other people / animals / plants could or should use. Conservation can be a simple as "are you being selfish and consuming the grass by walking on it". If you are having no impact, then why not use the grass. However, if your impact is the destruction of the grass and encouraging other people to destroy the grass, then don't do it.

Study the

  1. Outdoor Ethic (BSA) http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/OutdoorProgram/OutdoorEthics.aspx
  2. Leave No Trace https://lnt.org/
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    Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. – Draken Nov 24 '16 at 8:19
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    A manicured lawn at an office complex is definitely not what those policies have in mind. – user45590 Nov 24 '16 at 9:29
  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review – WorkerWithoutACause Nov 25 '16 at 11:46
  • @WorkerWithoutACause while I disagree with the answer strongly, the first line is "Don't take a shortcut across the lawn," followed by paragraphs of justification for this answer. With all respect, what the hell are you talking about? – user42272 Nov 26 '16 at 18:07
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    @djechlin: the answer has been edited since I reviewed it. – WorkerWithoutACause Nov 26 '16 at 20:50
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Even if you are staggered then you should be there during a standard arrive or leave time. At that time observe what people do. If only few walk on the grass then don't walk on the grass.

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