The latest antics from the HM Revenue and Customs 'Lean' programme have seen black tape put on employees’ desks to show them where to put their pens.
Staff at National Insurance offices in Longbenton, North Tyneside, were faced with the markings as part of a UK-wide drive to encourage tidiness.
Consultant Unipart brought in the Lean programme to encourage more efficient working practices.
But the Public and Commercial Services union claimed the scheme was costing more than £7m and branded it "demeaning and demoralising".
A Public and Commercial Services spokesman said: "The tape idea illustrates the madness of the Lean project.”
It comes after the scheme saw staff in Scotland asked whether bananas on their desks were "active" or "inactive". If they were not for immediate consumption, they had to be cleared away.
A customs spokesman told the BBC: "The markers on desks are used to demonstrate that it is much better to work in a tidy work environment where everything has its place. Staff involved have confirmed they prefer the tidier workspace."