April Fool’s Day: The Etiquette of Office Pranks

April 2015

April Fool’s! A good prank can be a great way to bond with coworkers—sharing a laugh and a moment to de-stress. That being said, each office is different and it is important to understand boundaries in the workplace before diving into something that might land you in hot water. Here are a few helpful tips on pulling an HR-approved prank that will still provide some comedic relief:

1. Be aware of how much time the prank will require/how much of a distraction it will create
While it might be tempting to do something on a grand scale, be aware of the fact that people are still at the office to get work done. Your prank shouldn’t require more than a couple of minutes of your time to set up, and the effects should be momentary. Toilet papering your entire floor might sound like a hilarious plan, but could end up being more bothersome than humorous. 

2. Don’t embarrass anyone that you don’t know well enough
April Fool's jokes are meant to be fun and lighthearted, but it is always better to air on the side of caution when it comes to involving coworkers. People can often be more sensitive in the workplace, so if you don’t know someone well enough to assume that they will have a sense of humor about your prank, then it’s probably best not to target them.

3. Don’t ruin anything
The classic cubicle pranks are always pretty funny, provided everything remains intact. Rearranging furniture or even adding text/photos to existing signage is always good for a laugh, but again, be sure that returning things to normal is a relatively simple task.

4. Follow company rules/guidelines
In today’s increasingly litigious society, most companies have strict guidelines in place surrounding issues of discrimination, harassment and bullying. Though it might sound obvious to avoid any kind of behavior that could fall into these categories, be sure that you are aware of the rules your company has in place. If you are wondering whether something is acceptable or not, it is probably safest to choose a new prank.

5. Own up to being the culprit
Once the prank has been successfully executed, be sure to admit to being the one behind it. Don’t let people spend all day trying to figure it out—it could disrupt the workday and eventually lead to trouble.

Though applying a list of rules to something meant to be fun might sound like a total buzz kill, rest assured that there are plenty of hilarious pranks that fall within these parameters. With a little creativity and an understanding of the nuances of your workplace, you should be able to pull off an appropriate prank that will still have everyone laughing.