Life can be unbearable in today’s workplace without office pranks and one of the best things about having co-workers is the opportunity to be able to laugh at someone else’s expense. The official dictionary definition of “office pranks” as a noun is “a mischievous joke or trick” and as a verb is “to decorate or adorn garishly in an ostentatious manner.” Office pranks have become so popular, there are various websites dedicated to the listing the most outrageous ones.
What are the Most Popular Office Pranks?
Office pranks are now so prevalent that for a prank to be special, one has to be especially inventive. One of the more common pranks is messing with a co-worker’s cubicle, covering it completely with assorted materials. A popular item to use are post-its, either standard yellow:
Or the multi-colored variety:
Household items are also ideal to use for this kind of prank such as aluminum foil:
Or plastic wrap:
Plastic wrap is also handy for pranks on co-workers who aren’t meticulous about checking the toilet before using the facilities:
Wrapping paper is also very popular especially during the holidays or for somebody’s birthday:
These pranks obviously involve much effort and lack of work productivity so here are some less time intensive but just as effective pranks. Some of these definitely raise the bar in terms of being inventive:
Here are some malicious office pranks in the order of maliciousness that is highly not recommended but at least you can see the plastic wrapped toilet prank in action:
Famous Office Pranks
Some of the best examples of innovative office pranks can be found in the television show, “The Office” based on the BBC version of the same name. In the show, in order to combat work boredom, ultimate prankster Jim Halpert creates innovative office pranks to play on overzealous, uptight co-worker Dwight Schrute. Office pranks play such a large part in “The Office” that a list for every prank played by each character can be found on a Wikia page. In the first episodes for both the U.S. and BBC versions, Jim encases Dwight’s beloved stapler in gelatin. In the BBC version, the Dwight character is named Gareth and the BBC version of Jim is Tim.
Dwight’s stapler - NBC
This stapler prank set off a trend in embalming office supplies in gelatin, from a phone:
To the entire keyboard:
Office Pranks Gone Wrong
Oral surgeon Dr. Robert Woo of Auburn, WA probably didn’t think he would be the subject of a lawsuit when as a joke, he inserted phony boar tusks in a patient while she was under anesthesia. The patient, Tina Alberts was also one of Dr. Woo’s employees and worked for him for five years, frequently talking about the potbellied pigs her family raised. After taking pictures of Alberts with the tusks, some with her eyes propped open, Dr. Woo performed the teeth implant procedure Alberts was scheduled to have.
When Alberts’ co-workers showed her the pictures at a birthday party, she was so humiliated, she quit. Woo tried to apologize for the practical joke gone wrong but Alberts alleged it was an act of "outrage, battery and invasion of privacy" and sued Woo. When Woo’s insurance company refused to cover the claim, Woo settled with Alberts out of court and agreed to pay her $250,000. Then Woo in turn, sued his insurance company for not covering what he considered was a part of his professional liability coverage and was eventually awarded 1 million dollars. The Court of Appeals agreed with Woo’s insurers that the prank had nothing to do with his practice of dentistry and struck down the ruling. However, the state Supreme Court overruled the appeal saying that “Woo's practical joke was an integral, if odd, part of the assistant's dental surgery and "conceivably" should trigger the professional liability of his policy.”
Office Prank Rules
One thing to think about when considering office pranking is whether you will still have a job after the prank is executed. Here are some key rules to keep in mind:
- Take into consideration the culture of your office. If you work in a conservative environment, say a law firm or The White House, it may not be the best place to use and abuse office supplies. If you work at say, at start-up where participation in fuseball tournaments are a prerequisite of employment, then chances are you can probably unleash your inner prankster.
- Don’t do anything illegal even though it may seem funny. Planting dried oregano in a co-worker’s desk and then calling the police is not only against the law, a waste of taxpayer’s resources and frankly, not really funny but it will probably also land you in the unemployment line and possibly jail.
- Keep in mind who is the person you are pranking, their sense of humor or lack of one. If you have a cool boss who can take a joke, great, but remember, they are still your boss so you better be sure that the stripper you hired to pose as their temp for the day does indeed goes over well when he or she finds out the truth.
- Bullying is major issue these days so don’t use pranking as way to embarrass, humiliate or seek revenge on someone you don’t like.
- Think about the consequences of the prank and make sure that humor and laughter is the ultimate goal and not tears, embarrassment, a lawsuit or worse, a heart attack.
Why not use your prank skills for good?
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