28 Jul 2016
How to do Office Pranks and not get fired

Office Pranks: How To Do Them And Not Get Fired

If you’ve been following my Twitter activity (@maddisonbw for the uninitiated) of late, you’ll know that I’ve been enjoying (read: winning) a harmless, yet totally serious prank war with a colleague.

Introducing The Great #VaseWar of 2016. To get you up to speed, Vase War began recently when the Spectrum Group team moved office (side note: yay!). My colleague was unpacking boxes and came across a wonderfully hideous vase and decided that my desk would be a good home for said vase. The vase, being not quite my taste, was then placed back on her desk and so on and so on. It has been hidden behind computer screens, under desks, next to plants, and in handbags.


But that was all child’s play. It was time to ramp things right up. Drawing inspiration from ultimate office prankster Jim Halpert, I packaged the vase in a recycled (the environment was not harmed in the making of this prank) postage bag and addressed it to my colleague from our CEO.

But how to get it delivered? Cue lightbulb moment: new neighbours. I introduced myself to one of the employees from the office next to us, explained the prank and asked if he could go to our office and say the package had accidentally been delivered to them.

He agreed and with an utterly confused look on her face, my colleague opened the package. Success!

And so I waited, patiently, for her next move. Nothing. It was time for a little harmless goading, so I replaced her headshot on our company website with a picture of the vase, and added the text “spirit object: vase”.

Not that she took this lying down. At a recent company bonding night, she attempted to have my dinner delivered in the vase. Cool, sure, but I’ll stress this was three weeks after my delivery prank. It also didn’t come off because the venue didn’t quite get the whole prank thing.

TL;DR: I am the reigning office prankster.

Office pranks are a great way to introduce fun to the workplace and bond with your colleagues, and they don’t have to be super elaborate to work their magic (although if that’s your style, there are always these for inspiration). So, you ask, what’s the secret to the perfect office prank? And what constitutes “too far”? Well, lucky for you, this self-proclaimed office pranking expert is here to clue you in.

Know The Person

This one sounds obvious – you’re not going to prank a stranger or an unassuming new starter on their first day (or at least I hope not) – but it can’t be understated. You must know the person and their sense of humour, almost to the point where you can predict their reaction. You’re a prankster, not a bully.

Know Your Employer

This one sounds obvious too, but the whole “not get fired” part hinges on this. Ensure your boss also has a sense of humour, isn’t concerned about the occasional requisitioning of office resources to the task or maybe, is having a day off.

Start Small

You don’t want to overwhelm your opponent and equally, you don’t want to reveal all your cards too early. Even if you’re busting with a great prank idea, avoid going in guns blazing. Like a good story, the prank war is all about the build.

Avoid Sticky Situations

No, not metaphorically. Literally. Avoid pranks that involve sticky substances such as honey on the door handle. Sticky notes are permissible, with the proviso that the content drawn onto them is inoffensive. If you’re really feeling adventurous, target outside your office and initiate a building-to-building post-it war as seen here (warning: this one may not be the best for the environment). Pranking is already an extracurricular office activity; you don’t want to make cleaning up one too.

Don’t Mess with Their Work

At the end of the day, you have to remain mindful of the context in which your prank war is taking place – the office. You can be cheeky and fun but keep professionalism and common sense in your arsenal at all times. Workshop the worst-case scenarios and ask yourself if it’s going to get someone in trouble.

To end on a cliche, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. So start small, keep things lighthearted, avoid sticky substances, and be sure to follow me on Twitter (again, that’s @maddisonbw) for all the latest on #VaseWar 2016.

What’s the best office prank you’ve ever pulled? Comment below (just don’t tell my colleague in case I want to use it).

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