This post is not a laughing matter. It’s an important piece to building better teams. Practical jokes in the office have all sorts of positive effects at work.

Office prank - airhorn under chair
Practical jokes help colleagues grow closer, destroy barriers, and dramatically improve morale. (Tweet that)

I had a conversation with a friend recently that went like this:

Friend: “We don’t play practical jokes in our office.”

Me: “You hate your job don’t you?”

Friend (glancing down pathetically): “Yes.”

OK, so the conversation didn’t really go like that, but you get the idea. I am pretty sure he used words like “uppity,” “stuffy.” and “corporate” to describe his office environment.

Since the dawn of time practical jokes have been a critical part of bonding and enjoyment in life…seriously remember that practical joke the snake played on Eve? Well that might not be the best example. But they are important.

Benefits of office practical jokes

Through the playing of practical jokes in the office, I have learned and practiced important skills such as:

  • Planning. Practical jokes take a lot of planning to execute properly.
  • Teamwork. I rarely have pulled off a good one on my own.
  • Secrecy. In a good way, I’ve learned how to keep things quiet.
  • Apologizing. Sometimes I have to apologize. OK, I often have to.

Through practical jokes I have seen colleagues grow closer, barriers destroyed, and morale dramatically improved. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine for whatever ails a person or a team.

Here are the top ten practical jokes I have played or known to be played in an office:

10. Desktop screenshot. A team member of mine once took a screenshot of another team member’s computer desktop and made it the background image. He then removed all of the icons. The jokee then tried unsuccessfully for 15 minutes to open various programs while we all giggled.
9. Icon switch. I once changed all of my bosses’ icons to open different programs. He clicked on Word and it opened Excel. He clicked on Firefox and it opened iTunes. I told IT about it in advance knowing he would take the computer to them.

8. Four words…cell phone in ceiling. My wife and her team once did this to a team leader at Dave Ramsey’s company.

7. Hi, I’m…Speaking of that team, they also change his Instant Messenger icon at work to the guy from CHiPs. He didn’t know about it for months while everyone who ever received an IM from him saw it.

6. The monitor switch. Take two people who sit close by and switch their monitors. Just think about what happens there…and imagine the ensuing hilarity.

5. Hello…this is God. One of our IT guys once set up his phone to say “God” when calling everyone in the office. He called one lady that worked for us and she freaked out. He said, “Lindsey, this is God. Quit smoking.” Then he hung up. She seriously had to give it some thought.

4. The ol’ keyboard switcharoo. This only works on the hunt and peck types (those people who look at the keyboard as they type). We had once such guy on the team who hunted and pecked and it was hilarious. Tip: Don’t switch any of the most prominent keys or the far left or right. Focus on the D,F,V,B, and switch the T and H. Makes for a lot of “hte” typos that they think were just accidents.

3. Stapler full of noisemakers. Replace a stapler’s staples with noisemakers (some people call them poppers). When they go to staple something, it will make a very loud sound. NOTE: I learned the hard way…don’t do this to someone who is taking a stapler to a client meeting. Granted, it ended up being hilarious, but might not have been.

2. Tape and an office chair. Tape their height adjuster so that when they sit down, it lowers. The funniest part is that it automatically goes back up. Freaking out ensues. Bonus tip: Tape their wheels too.

1. Airhorn under the office chair. When they sit down…yeah. Warning: You might want to tell everyone else in the office first though.

NOTE: You could combine the last two…they will sit longer when it goes down if it goes low…just sayin’.

Now…go do likewise.

What is the best practical joke you have ever played or heard about in an office?

Best office practical jokes and pranks

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37 thoughts on “Top 10 Office Practical Jokes

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Funny…I almost wrote about that but it did not end well. Great story though.

      1. Bret Wortman says:

        In the best case, I hid it in my own office and, whenever anyone would ask me, “What was that?” I’d give my best innocent face and ask back, “What was what?” My officemate was in on the gag and never sold me out. That was far more fun that hiding it in someone else’s space.

  1. Let's Grow Leaders says:

    I spent the summers lifeguarding as a kid. The first year, I became pool manager and head swim team coach, one of the nearby pool managers snuck into my pool at night and stocked it with a few carp. Made for an interesting swim team practice.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      HAHA! That is awesome Karin.

  2. Mark Sieverkropp says:

    Matt, my coworkers are going to hate you! You have awakened the child within… 🙂

      1. Lily Kreitinger says:

        Now he gets to break REAL things

  3. Katherine Leicester says:

    My experience runs more to office toys than practical jokes.

    The two best: the nerve rocket launcher, capable of remote control sighting. the most fun is to shoot rockets at everyone who visits the buffet / coffee table.
    The screaming monkey slingshot. Pull his little arms and send him flying over the tops of the cubes, screaming as he goes.


    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I remember the monkey in our office. If you don’t know what it is…well.

  4. Jon Stolpe says:

    Someone installed a ceiling fan in our service manager’s office several years ago. I work for an HVAC controls company and the manager was responsible for the temperature of our office. I guess you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Aren’t ceiling fans in an HVAC office like an Auburn shirt on Alabama’s campus?

      1. Jon Stolpe says:

        Yes. There generally aren’t any ceiling fans in an HVAC office which is what made it pretty funny.

  5. Joshua Rivers says:

    Hilarious! I try to have fun at work, otherwise it’ll drive me crazy! (I know – I’m crazy anyway, but whatever!)

    (I was working in a different box factory than I work now…) I worked on a machine that turned rolls of paper into flat sheets of corrugated boxes. They had to be precise dimensions, but from time to time, it would get set up wrong. We would tell the new guys to get a paper-stretcher from the maintenance shop (doesn’t exist). Usually, they would go back there and maintenance would tell them it was a joke and they would come back. But once, the guy came back with some contraption (still have no idea what it was). One guy I worked with thought quickly, and showed him “how to use it.” The guy was taking a sheet at a time and pulling it through this thing for at least five minutes before we stopped him.

    We used to also send them for a bucket of steam and anti-warp spray…

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      HAHA Joshua. Thanks for sharing. I have someone in mind that would have fallen for that 🙂

  6. Just found your blog. This is hilarious! I’m sharing it with my daughter. They like to do practical jokes in her office.

    1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

      Well Amy, as the official…well, I guess I’m not the official anything. But as a fellow reader of Matt’s blog, WELCOME! I think you’ll really like Matt’s blog. Not only is he pretty funny, you’ll learn a lot too!
      I hope you keep visiting!

      1. Matt McWilliams says:

        HAHA Mark. @Amy_Mable:disqus Mark is right…he is the unofficially official welcomer. And thanks for visiting!

      2. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        I only do it for the benefits package…

      3. Well, if I get my daughter fired, I’ll send her over here. She’ll need benefits.

  7. Robert Kennedy III says:

    This is hilarious Matt. I can absolutely see myself pulling #10 on someone 🙂

  8. Arlen Miller says:

    Yes, indeed HIGH-larious! Craziness! I like it! Thing is— I would need to do it to myself. Not near as fun. I’m working alone.

    1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

      Haha. Ya. Good stuff. I was inspired by it and ended up being talked to by my boss AND called out (by name) in a departmental meeting. Haha

      1. Arlen Miller says:

        Oopsy. Uh-oh! Having tooo much fun!? Risk is usually good. At least calculated risk. 🙂

      2. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        Long story. I didn’t get fired or anything. But I really was called out by name in a departmental meeting

  9. John Deadman says:

    Hilarious! I am going to have to try at least one of these this week.

    1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

      John, did you end up using any of these for April Fools? How did it go??

    2. Matt McWilliams says:

      I am wondering the same thing as @marksieverkropp:disqus – Did you try any of them? Hopefully you are still employed 🙂

  10. Mike Kawula says:

    Love it and gives me so many new ideas 🙂

    1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

      Haha. Love it Jackie! Did you pull any good April Fools pranks this year? Or we’re you the recipient of any good ones?

      Glad to “meet” you on here! Hope to see you around Matt’s blog more often!!

      1. Jackie Ramos Beyer says:

        Thanks Mark! Nice to meet you too. You know it’s a funny thing…I often tell people I was born without two senses, common sense-I have to be taught everything and a sense of humor…I am wayyyy toooo serious for April Fools Jokes. Haha, I’m working on my sense of humor though… How about you did you pull any good pranks this year?

      2. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        You know Jackie, I didn’t get the chance this year…I was sick on April 1 and went home from work early! but I’ve put all my co workers on notice that I’ll be having a “make up” April Fools…and I’m not telling them when 🙂

      3. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        …however, as evidence of my reputation, after I went home my boss came by and asked my co-worker if I’d pulled any pranks that day…my co-worker told me that was when she knew I was really sick, because I hadn’t tried a thing!

    2. Matt McWilliams says:

      That’s a good one Jackie! HAHA.

      Thanks for sharing.

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