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Does pranking improve team culture?


Practical jokes are rife in my office and have been in many offices I have worked in. I am not sure if that is because I come from the health and fitness industry where the average age of employees is younger than most industries but pranking is a definite sub culture alive and kicking.

It usually starts with a team member leaving their desk and forgetting to password lock their email, before long the unsuspecting employee’s colleagues have jumped on their mail and are merrily emailing their other colleagues or even their report lines.

I have been on the receiving end of emails supposedly from my senior team announcing everything from their pregnancy to their admiration for the Managing Directors physical prowess. Fortunately I have finely tuned skills of detecting these emails from years of being on the receiving end of them but not everyone picks up on the joke.

So is this harmless fun or mischievous and distracting behaviour? We have a relaxed working environment where people are not too over sensitive to a bit of leg pulling, in fact it is an important part of our values to not take ourselves too seriously. As long as a moral line is not crossed practical jokes and pranks can actually go a long way to create a bond between the team.

Its also important for the leadership of a company to be up for a bit of horse-play. I always try my best to play an April Fools joke on my team every year, its getting more and more difficult as they are on to me and prepared but it still creates a lot of fun.

I have had a number of practical jokes played on me but I take this as a good sign that the team feel safe to do so and that there is a sense of fun in the office. Here is a hire car I was using that the team decides to cover in foil..

And here is my office filled full of balls of all sizes, including those tiny ones out of a bean bag, nice!

The team filled my office full of balls!

Practical jokes and pranks are a sign of a great culture, as long as they are within the moral guard rails of the company there is no harm with bringing fun and humour into the work place. I actually find that these kind of activities can be a good filter for anyone who isn’t a cultural fit as someone without a good sense of humour and that takes themselves too seriously isn’t going to last long at Jetts!

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1 Comment

  1. Stewart

    As we work on a Service Desk and we have access to personal information of our customers staff its essential that we all Lock our PCs when we seek help, go for a wander or have a pee break. If we don’t the Barracuda comes out to play. As mentioned pranks can include offering to buy the first round, fake resignations (needs to have some ridiculous role they are going to other wise it becomes concerning) and coming out of the closet about addictions to door handles and other crazy stuff. However my all time favourite is a Barracuda were the Senior Manager sent an email to all the floor explaining how he was feeling really down through some personal issues and if you could just give him a hug when you saw him that would pick him up . It took him at least 10 minutes to walk the 100 meters.
    For newbies its a bizarre tradition but once they ave been Barracuda’ed then they never forget to lock their PC. Keeping personal details safe and secure.

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