Fun @ Work

Published Date
01 - Nov - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Nov - 2006
Fun @ Work
Studies have shown that dull, boring corporate environments may not be the best enabler of quality work. A little humour goes a long way in livening up the atmosphere, and it builds friendships-an essential ingredient in the building of a good team. A lot of corporate studies have shown that a cheery work atmosphere results in better teamwork, more productivity, lower attrition rates, and an overall enhancement in output quality.

A survey conducted by the Gallup Organization ( of millions of office workers around the globe has shown that having close friends at work improves a worker's job satisfaction by almost 50 per cent! The same study, in sharp contrast, showed that one third of the 80,000 bosses polled thought "office friendships" should be frowned upon-talk about not knowing what your employees want, or need! Especially considering that the study also showed that the majority of employees would rather have a friend at work than even a 10 per cent pay hike, and employees with three or more close friends at work were actually 96 per cent happier with their lives and their salaries!

There are more studies that say offices should be designed in a fun way, or that management should hold non-work-related gatherings for friends and families of employees to encourage friendships and bonding, but let's leave that for now. What's more important is that employees learn to open up a bit, let their hair down and have a little laugh every now and then, so long as it doesn't affect their work.

We will digress from formal business articles here in order to give you some hints as to what you can do to liven up the atmosphere.

Tech Pranks
One of the easiest ways to break the ice amidst a group of employees is a harmless prank-with emphasis on harmless! Nothing makes opening up to one another easier than laughter, and you're guaranteed to get some if you pull some of the pranks we're listing here. Remember, these are just a few ideas, or pranks that people have actually pulled, and you're limited only by your own creativity! What's important is that you choose your victims wisely-not everyone will find humour in having a prank pulled on him or her, so make sure you choose a person with a sporting attitude...

One of the oldest yet best pranks involving computers is to switch people's keyboards or mice. You could even switch monitors! This works best when you have two people sharing a desk or cubicle, facing each other, with cabinets on the floor. Let two or three people in on the joke (except the victims of course), and watch as they are bewildered about the strange things happening on their monitors, as the other moves the mouse or types something. This can also be done if you're one of the two, where you control the other's mouse or keyboard.

Windows XP's sounds reside in the C:WindowsMedia folder. These include the Startup and Shutdown sounds, and all the other short sounds you hear when running Windows. You can also do this with instant messengers, especially for the people who love to IM at work!

Replace a particular sound with something loud! Popular choices in the past have been explosions, machine guns and even adult movie soundtracks! If it's the Startup sound you're modifying, make sure you turn up the volume on your victim's speakers. Just rename the original sound, place your sound in the WindowsMedia directory and rename your sound file to the same name as the original. You can also do this by going to Control Panel > Sounds and Audio Devices, and clicking on the Sounds tab. Select an action, and in the Sounds dropdown below, you can select the sound you want, play it, or click "Browse…" to add your own sound. You can get some funny WAV files from Free_ Sounds/Free_ WAVs/.

Sit back and watch as your chosen sound scares or embarrasses your victim.
Word Fun
You have to love Microsoft Word's AutoCorrect! This can help you place a nice prank on a co-worker. If you're not the subtle type, you can set Word to replace a common word like "the" with something else. It can be as different as "virus," "you idiot," "_INSERT_ARTICLE_", "help, this guy can't spell," or as subtle as "teh" or "them." If the victim is not too computer-savvy, he/she may never even figure it out.

You can find Microsoft Word's AutoCorrect feature by going to Tools > AutoCorrect Options… In the Replace box type the word you want to replace, and in the With box, type in your prank word, and then Click Add, then OK.

Note: If you're using Office 2007 Beta, use [Alt] [T] [A] to get to AutoCorrect  Options, or click on the Office 2007 logo > Word Options > Proofing, and you will see an AutoCorrect Options button on the right.

Mouse Grouse

There are a couple of things that involve a mouse that you can do to people. If you're an extremist, you could use the "real-mouse-on-a-string" joke as depicted on the previous page, but your bosses might not take kindly to you bringing rodents into work! If you just have to, use a realistic-looking stuffed toy.

Apart from this, if your colleague uses an older ball mouse, you can open it up and stick the ball to the body using tape. This will cause the mouse to stop responding, or, at least, slow it down like mad.

You could also play with the mouse sensitivity settings in Windows XP, and make it either too fast or too slow to manage, which will frustrate your colleague even more.

Last but not least, you can just switch the mouse configuration over from right-handed to left-handed, and watch with glee as your colleague desperately tries to left click on something and ends up getting the right-click menu!

You can get access to all the mouse software tweaks by going to Control Panel > Mouse. Again, this only works if your colleague is not too well-versed with PCs and the way they work.

The Hung Desktop Trick
This one is old, and will only fool absolute novices, so make sure your victim has just started using computers, or else it's just a waste of time.

Basically, it involves taking a snapshot of your victim's desktop environment, then using it as the desktop wallpaper, and hiding all other icons. This makes it seem like they're on their desktop, but nothing is clickable, and thus the confusion.

If you're an extremist, you could use the "real-mouse-on-a-string" joke

Press [Print Screen], open MS Paint, and press [Ctrl] [V] to paste the copied image. Then save it as a BMP file somewhere on your computer. Now right-click on the desktop and go to Properties > Desktop, click on Browse…, and then choose the picture you just saved. Then right-click on the Desktop, go to Arrange Icons By > Show Desktop Icons (un-check it). This will hide your desktop icons. Next, right click on the Taskbar, select Properties, and check the "Auto-hide the taskbar" box. Click OK to exit. The taskbar and the Desktop icons will be hidden, but it looks like the Desktop is active because of the background. When the victim tries to use the computer, he/she will not be able to click anything or do anything, thinking that the computer is hung.

For ethical reasons, if you do this, make sure that there are no important work files open, and if there are, please save and close them, because even a novice user will instantly press "reboot"!

Change It Up
Most people, including touch-typists and advanced users, can be easily fooled by this one. All it takes is a screwdriver and some care: remove the M and N keys from the keyboard, and interchange their positions. Most people will never figure out that they're actually correctly typing M, and keep thinking that they're making typoes. To illustrate how confusing this can be, especially for those who haven't had formal typing training, here's an anecdote. One colleague was trying to play this trick on another, and popped out the M and N keys all right, but then he confused himself, and put them back into their right positions-he thought he had swapped them, but actually he hadn't. Then he waited for the screams of anguish, and the cursing of the keyboard-they never came! It was only after about three hours that he came back and had a look at the keys and realised he had "out-pranked" himself!

Remember, the office is still the place you go to work, so don't get carried away

To befuddle your colleagues even more, you can change the keyboard's layout altogether! In Windows XP, go to Control Panel > Regional and Language Options. Under the Language tab, click Details. You will see a list of keyboard layouts. Click Add, and select United States - Dvorak (the Dvorak keyboard layout is a whole different way of organising keys on the keyboard). Now, change the Default Input Language to English (United States) - United States-Dvorak. Apply and watch as your victim screams in frustration as "R" becomes "P", "J" becomes "H", and other such traumatising transformations occur.

Not-So-Tech Pranks
Here are some innovative suggestions for non-technology-based humour from friends and colleagues:

If your office has a coffee maker, change the coffee to decaf. Wait a month for their bodies to adjust. Change the coffee to espresso. Sit back and watch people go crazy!

Put tape over the microphone of a desk phone (by opening it up). Watch Mr X have to scream into it to be heard. After a week, remove the microphone tape and put it over the earpiece instead. He'll still scream and irritate his clients, but now he won't be able to hear them complain. Just before he's about to ask for a new phone, remove the tape!

If everyone in your office has desks with drawers, pull out the drawer. Place a cardboard on top of it, turn it upside down and carefully push the drawer back in. Just before you close it completely, pull the cardboard out carefully. Watch as your co-worker drops all the contents of the drawer on his/her feet!
Stay Focused
Remember, the office is still the place you go to work, so don't get carried away-or you may end up getting fired, and we wouldn't want that to happen. Keep it down to one a month, or one every three months, and you should be fine.

There are a million things you can do, and if you stick to non-destructive pranks, you ought to make quite a few friends (or enemies) quite quickly. We'd love to hear about some real things  that have happened at your workplace. Write in to and tell us about them!

How To Get Fired

Consider this a "Do not do" list if you like your job, or a "How to get fired" list if you don't!
·For a week, set a mouse (the rodent) free in the office everyday. Wait till just before they call the exterminator, then send in snakes to get the mice.

· Every time your boss gets up from his desk to go to the loo, dial his extension number. Just before he reaches the phone, hang up. Repeat until he ignores the calls and runs screaming to the loo, or until he loses bladder control.

· After a particularly spicy lunch in the cafeteria, when a lot of people visit the loo, set off the fire alarm. 

·Hang "out of order" signs on all the lifts when everyone is at lunch. After everyone has huffed and puffed their way up to the 16th floor, take a ride up in one. Note: works best in buildings with over 10 storeys.

· Write a post-it note that says "I need those confidential files we spoke about the other day by tonight. I hope they're ready." Stick it on your boss' monitor. Watch him/her break out into a sweat. Again, works best in large offices where you boss has many more bosses.

· Buy three tubes of superglue. Glue everything on your bosses' desk. If you can get your hands on a rivet gun and a drill machine, transfer his desk and chair from the floor to the roof as well.

· Get access to your company's EPABX system. Change the hold music to someone burp-singing a popular song.

· Go to a lot of questionable sites. Sign up for their "free" content using your boss' e-mail address.

·Buy three kilos of sugar. Wait for someone to either be fired or quit. Get out the sugar, pour it all around the cap of every boss' car's petrol tank. Make sure to drop enough to make it obvious. You have a good chance that most of the bosses will not realise that you need a key to get into gas tanks, and will call for mechanics and a tow truck to send their cars off for servicing. Investigations will point to the employee who recently quit or was fired.

· Open out the bolts that hold the toilet seats in place. Stand outside and listen to people walk in, "crash," and then fumble with it trying to figure out how to fix them all back.

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