April Fool’s Day is here, and you may have already planned some pranks for your co-workers. Keeping things light at work can boost camaraderie and break the tension during a tough workday. As with all comedy, the key is knowing your audience, and it’s important to avoid humiliating people in the workplace or crossing boundaries that make people feel uncomfortable.
Here are three ideas for bringing a little humor into the workplace.
Say it with a GIF
Building camaraderie is undeniably critical for small teams, but doing so when your team of 18 is spread across five time zones, two countries and 10 states is no easy feat, says Jenny Karn, co-founder and vice president of content at Beutler Ink. The creative firm strives to do so through humor, by way of GIFs and a dedicated platform for humorous links and videos.
We celebrate every birthday, project win and client milestone with an email chain full of animated GIFs, Karn says. “On top of that, we created a dedicated channel, aptly named ‘Random,’ on our chat tool Slack for sharing hilarious links from across the web.” Doing so on a platform makes it possible to comment on the links without clogging inboxes or distracting from workflows, she says.
“Thanks to technology and a culture that encourages humor, we were able to participate in the year’s biggest debate — white and gold OR blue and black — with just as much fervor as any traditional office,” she says.
Keep the prank going
When eZanga.com was in its old office, some employees spent some time turning a sales rep’s cubicle into a small house. “Once we had moved into our new space, we knew I just wouldn’t feel like home until we had a house in it again,” says Megan Ingenbrandt, PR specialist at eZanga. When the marketing manager at the time went on vacation, the CFO, Beth Kahn, oversaw an “Extreme Makeover” type remodel.
“We have a tight-knit group here at eZanga anyway, but this prank definitely brought the group together, even if just to see the building process,” Ingenbrandt says. “It’s been a real bonding point for a lot of the staff that was around them, and it created a great conversation piece for the office. There isn’t a single person that visits eZanga that doesn’t get a tour of the house from the person they met with.”
Get leaders involved
You can take your prank up the ladder by involving different levels of your organization. Valentin Vesa, social media expert for Sucuri Inc., recommends delivering cakes or pizzas to people with a note saying they need to take the item to the CEO’s office ASAP. Vesa suggests filming the arrival of the cake and then the delivery to the CEO’s office; the confusion, humor and treat all result in a good-natured laugh.
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