How to Handle April Fools’ Day…and a Few Good Pranks!

fairbanks joke humor pink flamingos public domainI’ve gleefully noted here before that humor at work can really help you boost productivity, reduce stress, create a wonderful company culture and bring people together.

But too much of a good thing can have negative consequences. As we look ahead at our calendars and see April Fools’ Day closing in on us quickly, we realize that it could be an occasion where some folks cross the line. You don’t want that.

There are as many different attitudes and requirements regarding an “April Fools’ Day Policy” as there are workplaces. For example, I don’t want the crew staffing the ER pulling pranks on each other when they’re rolling me in on a gurney. Other settings where you’re working closely with clients would be in appropriate as well.

However, with a group of coworkers who have been together for years and are good friends at work and at play, you have quite a lot of leeway. To sum it up, there is an infinite variety of tolerances between the two extremes I’ve cited here.

Your responsibility

As a supervisor, you need to be sure that no one gets targeted by any office hijinks. If there is any history of friction between employees, you should deliver some subtle words of caution – or ban pranks altogether – before April 1 rolls around.

Some office gags don’t target individuals and can be good fun. If you’re fast with a screwdriver, you can change the hinges on the door of your lunchroom refrigerator so the hinges and the handle are on the same side. In this state it become impossible to open using the handle. You can just sit back and watch people try.

Warning: If you have an employee who is as strong as an ox, your refrigerator door handle could be completely pulled off.

If you want to have some innocent fun with computers, you can paste various pieces of Javascript code into browsers to get some interesting results. Note that some browsers, like Safari won’t allow this unless you change a preference and Chrome will strip out a word you’ll need to replace, I’ll explain what I mean in my instructions. Pull these pranks when your target is away from his or her computer.

Flying graphics. Be sure there are photos on the displayed webpage. Grab the code snippet below by inserting your cursor and doing a “select all.” Then paste the code below into a browser address box, then hit return/enter. Note that Chrome usually deletes the word “javascript” and the colon. You’ll have to cursor back and type those in by hand – with no space after the colon – before you hit return:

javascript:R=0; x1=.1; y1=.05; x2=.25; y2=.24; x3=1.6; y3=.24; x4=300; y4=200; x5=300; y5=200; DI=document.getElementsByTagName("img"); DIL=DI.length; function A(){for(i=0; i-DIL; i++){DIS=DI[ i ].style; DIS.position='absolute'; DIS.left=(Math.sin(R*x1+i*x2+x3)*x4+x5)+"px";*y1+i*y2+y3)*y4+y5)+"px"}R++}setInterval('A()',5); void(0);

Faux website hack. The next Javascript allows you to edit or change the text on a website page in a browser window just like you would in a Word document. It doesn’t change the website at all, just what is on the single computer screen where you enter the code. Play around with it to see how it works and come up with a funny (and harmless) prank. You could “prank” yourself with this one and then point it out to coworkers, pulling them into your web… The same instructions apply as explained above:

javascript:document.body.contentEditable='true'; document.designMode='on'; void 0

Okay, my work is done here. I’ve warned you and then inspired you. Let me leave you with some wise words from “Hill Street Blues” (Who remembers that cop show?):

Be safe out there!

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