I think it’s safe to assume that we all work really hard.
Besides the fact that doing anything worthwhile takes hard work and dedication, the trend has been longer and longer hours for American office workers. According to a 2014 Gallup study, full-time adults work 47 hours each week, almost a full workday longer than the standard 40-hour workweek.
Sometimes you need a little office laughter to break up the day and recharge from all the time spent focusing on the serious stuff.
Of course, you don’t want to prank your colleagues with the same, tired pranks.
With this in mind (and with April Fool’s Day coming up), we decided to put together our Ultimate Guide to pranking your colleagues.
We tried to avoid all of the jokes you and your co-workers have probably already pulled on each other. These are the best of the best, office pranks guaranteed to help you become the king (or queen) of office pranks – without getting fired.
First, a few ground rules.
Most of these are pretty obvious (and we seriously doubt any of you would do any of these things), but it’s worth mentioning that you should avoid doing any of the following:
- Don’t Destroy Anyone’s Property. That goes for office or personal property. Anything you do should be reversible. Don’t ruin the paint on someone’s car, or break someone’s monitor, or stain their clothing. That’s not a prank, that’s straight-up vandalism.
- Don’t Cause Major Disruptions. The best office pranks surprise and delight. They may even cause a minor disruption in the workday – the kind that makes people pop their heads up from their desks and smile (or shake their head). But don’t do anything that would cause major disruption or otherwise harm your business. We’re talking about things like pulling the fire alarm, unleashing noxious stink bombs, or unplugging your company’s servers (as tempting as that might be).
- Don’t Cause Bodily Injury. Duh.
- Don’t Cross the Line. Ever heard of the phrase “hostile work environment?” Well, let’s hope you never do (especially coming from your lawyer or your company’s Head of HR). Use good judgment. We know you’d never do this, but don’t engage in humor that pokes fun at anyone’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. That’s never ok in the workplace. Even if your intent isn’t malicious, you can still lose your job and/or put your company at risk. Plus, it’s just not cool.
Once you’ve gone through our list, you can get additional workplace culture ideas from The Assist — a free weekly email for professionals full of actionable productivity and leadership inspo.
“One thing The Assist has helped me immensely with is keeping our company culture alive during this new shift to hybrid work. It is important for us to have a team who is happy and healthy and The Assist has provided tons of options to help make that possible for our team.” -Julie P. Executive Assistant, Classcraft
Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, on to the fun stuff.
1. Body Spray Bomb
This one comes from SnackNation Member Success Manager Jessie Montz, the self-described “Queen of the Office Pranksters.”
The idea is to rig up a bottle of body spray underneath the victim’s office chair so that when he sits down, it triggers the bottle to spray.
- One bottle of foul-smelling body spray (this “Anarchy” scented Axe body spray should do the trick)
- Duct tape
- Office chair
Step 1: Adjust the victim’s chair so that the chair gives slightly when someone sits on it.
Step 2: Duct tape the bottle of body spray directly under the seat so that when the chair moves down, it depresses the spray.
Step 3: Use the clothespin to plug your nose. (You don’t want to be smelling that stuff if it heads your way.)
Step 4: Hilarity ensues.
(Note: this one also works with airhorns.)
2. Family Photo Swap
Does your co-worker keep a photo of a cherished loved one? Well, it’s about time they appreciated one of the greatest actors of all time, and not their kid or whatever.
Replace family pics with photos of your favorite weirdo celebrity. (This photo of Nicolas Cage from Vampire’s Kiss works particularly well.)
Speaking of Nic Cage…
3. Nicolas Cage-ify Your Coworker’s Browser with nCage
Wish there was a way to update the Nic Cage insanity for the digital age? Well, nCage has already beat you to it.
This handy Chrome extension will replace every image on every page with a different photo of – you guessed it – Nicolas Cage.
4. Monitor Mayhem
A favorite at monday.com, this trick will have your coworkers scratching their heads.
- An unlocked computer screen.
- About 15 seconds and some nimble fingers.
Step 1: When they aren’t looking, sneak onto your victim’s computer.
Step 2: Flip their screen. On a Windows PC, hit control+alt+F1 to activate image rotation. Hold the ctrl and alt keys and use the down arrow to rotate the screen.
On a Mac, go to system preferences and click the “Displays” tab. From there choose 180 degrees on the rotation menu. (Only works with external displays.) Close out of system preferences when you’re done.
Step 3: Return to your desk and try not to crack a smile as your co-worker tries to figure out how to change it back.
5. Fake Computer Update
Fakeupdate.net has created realistic looking update animations to make your coworkers think their computer is in the middle of an important, frustratingly slow system update. The kicker? The update will never finish. Status bars inexplicably creep forward and backward, and when your co-worker inevitably hits the enter key, the blue screen of death or some other hilariously frightening message appears.
Step 1: Sneak onto your co-worker’s computer and go to fakeupdate.net.
Step 2: Select their operating system. (Or for maximum confusion, select a Mac OS on a Windows PC or vice versa.)
Step 3: Set browser to fullscreen.
Step 4: Slink away like the dirty trickster you are.
6. Hidden Box Trick
- 5-6 moving boxes of various sizes, including one large-sized box
- Packing tape
- A co-conspirator
Step 1: Put together the boxes with the packing tape and place them in a coworker’s cubicle or office. Make it look as though facilities accidentally set down a bunch of moving boxes in the wrong place.
Step 2: Hide in the largest of the boxes. Have your co-conspirator tape up the box, but cut the tape so that it will be easy to breakthrough.
Step 3: Lie in wait.
Step 4: Listen to your victim to return. As soon as you hear them start to grumble about the moving mix up, jump out of the box and yell “Jumanji!” as loud as you can.
Step 5: Laugh maniacally.
7. Hidden Penny Insanity
This next one is less of a prank and more like psychological torture. Here’s Jessie Montz again:
“For the last couple months I have been pulling a prank on my co-worker Brendan. Every so often I place one penny on his desk or under his coffee mug, mouse, etc. Enough that he thinks he is going crazy.”
Props to Jessie for committing to the long game.
8. The Broken Mouse
Here’s a classic and SnackNation favorite that will have your co-workers questioning their sanity yet again.
Step 1: Tape over the sensor on your coworker’s mouse.
Step 2: Watch as your co-worker tries to figure out why they can click, but can’t scroll, no matter how hard they flail their mouse around.
Step 3: Don’t forget a friendly message for when they finally figure it out.
9. Forecast Calls for…Packing Peanuts
We’ve all probably seen a version of the “fill your co-worker’s cubicle with packing peanuts” trick, and while it’s pretty good, it’s definitely been done before. Don’t you think it’s time someone elevated this one to new heights?
Go stealth and create a winter wonderland any time of year by filling your co-workers’ overhead shelves with packing peanuts.
- 3 packs (or more) of packing peanuts
- 1 long strip of cardboard
- A cubicle desk with overhead cabinets
Step 1: While your co-worker is away, fill his cabinets with packing peanuts. Use the cardboard strip to keep the peanuts in place while you close the cabinet, and slide it out once the cabinet is shut.
Step 2: Important – make a mental note of an item he keeps in the cabinet (a ruler, stapler, or specific book for instance). Pick up any stray packing peanuts so you don’t tip your hand.
Step 3: Once he’s back at his desk, come by and ask for that item from step 2.
Step 4: Point and laugh as packing peanuts rain down on his head.
Step 5: Runaway.
10. Unwrap this
Some people can’t stand a wrapped gift.
- Copious amounts of wrapping paper (Buy at the dollar store to save some cash)
An oldie but a goodie. Give the gift that keeps on frustrating by gift wrapping everything on your colleague’s desk. And by everything we mean everything. Monitor, keyboard, mouse, individual paper clips, personal belongings, desk, office chair, lamp… you get the picture.
Stick to one pattern or color scheme to create a shocking visual display.
11. Fake Birthday
Gather around a co-worker’s desk and sing happy birthday. Up the ante by buying balloons and a personalized cake. See if your victim has the heart to tell you that… it’s not actually her birthday. (Works best with that super nice officemate who doesn’t like hurting people’s feelings.)
The key to this one is getting to know your co-workers’ greatest fear.
Step 1: Find a coworker with a phobia. There’s gotta be someone who’s afraid of bats, snakes, or rats in your office
Step 2: Exploit that fear by filling their office with rubber versions of the one thing they dread the most. (The more realistic the better.)
Step 3: This is definitely one you’ll want to catch on video, so make sure you have your phone handy.
Bonus: your coworker will appreciate the fact that you took the time to learn something personal about them.
Just kidding, they’ll probably hate you forever.
13. Sleeping Beauty
Do you have a coworker who just can’t keep their eyes open at certain points of the day? It’s time for a little sleep-shaming.
Step 1: Wait for sleeping beauty to dose off.
Step 2: Gather your teammates. Have as many people as possible pose next to your slumbering officemate. (Make sure you are extra quiet!)
Step 3: Go to your local print shop and have a life-size poster printed.
Step 4: Get to work early and hang it in the hallway for all to see.
14. Head in a Jar
This epic prank requires a little bit of photo editing skills, but it is well worth it.
- A decent camera
- A color printer that prints legal size paper
- Lamination machine
- Yellow food coloring
- A wide-mouth gallon jar
- A wig
Step 1: Have someone take 3 photos of your face: one straight on, and two side profiles.
Step 2: Using photoshop, blend the three photos together to make one continuous image. Make sure that it’s hi-res enough to print on 11” x 17” legal paper.
Step 3: Print and laminate your photo.
Step 4: Place the photo in the jar so that it wraps around the edge.
Step 5: Fill with water and add a few drops of the yellow food coloring.
Step 6: Place parts of the wig in the jar so that it looks like realistic hair.
Step 7: Place your finished creation in the company fridge. Watch as people freak out.
15. Phantom Paperclip
Here’s a super simple prank that you can pull off using only office supplies.
Step 1: Place a paperclip in the upper left hand corner of the scanning bed of your company’s copier. Make sure you position it so that it’s exactly where you’d place an actual paper clip.
Step 2: Make a sizable amount of copies. (200 will do nicely.)
Step 3: Put the copies back into the printer tray.
Step 4: Watch the confusion on your co-workers’ faces as they try to remove non-existent paper clips.
16. TP Spider
Another simple but effective prank.
A thin-tipped black fountain pen.
Step 1: Go in the bathroom and unroll some of the toilet paper.
Step 2: Draw the outline of a sinister looking black widow spider on the top of the roll. The black outline contrasting against the white paper will catch your victim’s eye and cause a moment of panic.
Step 3: Revel in your wicked ways.
17. Bugs in the Lampshade
Similar to “TP Spider,” bugs in the lampshade will make your colleague think they’re being attacked by a horde of creepy crawly insects.
- Black construction paper
- A coworker with a desk lamp
Step 1: Using the scissors and paper, cutout silhouettes of the nastiest bugs you can think of – cockroaches, spiders, and centipedes are go-to for this one.
Step 2: Place the cutouts inside the lampshade and fix them with tape. They’ll be invisible until he or she decides to flip on the light.
Step 3: Listen for the screams.
18. Desktop Screenshot.
Another simple but effective monitor trick.
Step 1: When your coworker is away, take a screenshot of his or her desktop. Move all desktop folders and files into one new folder and hide that in their documents folder.
Step 2: Replace their current desktop background with the screenshot you just took.
Step 3: Sit back and watch as your coworker tries to figure out why nothing on his computer works.
19. Kid’s Desk
Replace your boss’s desk (and everything on it) with the Fisher Price version – we’re talking phone, monitor, keyboard, the works. You can find a lot of this stuff fairly cheap at thrift stores.
(Thanks to Burlington Bytes for this idea)
Bonus points – create company letterhead and/or office memos using crayons.
20. Autocorrect Upgrade
Go into your coworker’s iPhone and change the autocorrect settings for maximum hilarity.
Have the phone replace common words like “Yes,” “No,” “Cool,” and “Ok” with phrases that have a little more pizzazz.
“Yes” becomes “OH YEAHHHH!”
“No” becomes “Naw, son.”
“Cool” becomes “Righteous, brother!”
“Ok” becomes “BOOMSHAKALAKA!”
21. Chewbacca Roar Contest
Step 1: Circulate a flier announcing a fake “Chewbacca Roar Contest” in your neighborhood. The more fliers the better!
Step 2: Put an unsuspecting coworker’s phone number as the “Official Contest Number.”
Step 3: Watch as Chewie calls flood in. Also works with Christopher Walken impressions.
If all else fails…
What’s the best office prank you’ve ever pulled on a coworker? Let us know in the comments.
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