April Fool’s Day is fast approaching. While it’s technically on a Sunday this year in 2018, many of you are likely planning to pull one or two goofs off on your favorite coworker(s). It’s very important to remember that even though April Fool’s pranks can be fun and entertaining, they can also be disastrous to your relationships with coworkers, and perhaps even your career.

I’m not much of a prankster these days. It’s because of an joke that I perpetrated on a coworker on April Fool’s back in 1997. I’ll save the details because I was around twenty at the time and still wet behind the gills. Needless to say, everyone at work thought my joke was funny and light-hearted, while the recipient absolutely did not. He was mortally embarrassed and felt like I’d put his job on the line.

I actually never saw it coming, but after working together almost a year, and laughing together daily, my joke destroyed the relationship. For the rest of my time at the job (a year), he only talked to me during my last week. It was a staunch lesson to learn, and a good friendship ruined. So, regardless of what route you choose, I honestly believe you should think twice before entering the fray on Monday (or Sunday, if you’re working then).

April Fool's jokes at the office

1. Consider the recipient and their sense of humor.

Such as when pranking the CEO, who has the power to fire you, keep you at the same pay grade, or refuse that extra vacation time you’re pushing for this summer. Or, if you’re the least bit doubtful after reading how my final April Fool’s prank ended up. If you’re going to single someone out, make sure they’re not going to feel ashamed, humiliated, or outright attacked by your April Fool’s prank. For this reason, people, or teams of people in the company you don’t know well are a BAD idea.

2. Don’t break company rules.

The first tip highlights our inherent stupidity when we’re doing something WE think will be funny. It’s easy to make a mistake you’ll later regret without actually knowing how it will impact people we don’t know on the level we do our own friends and family. However, it should be a no-brainer you can’t break company rules in an effort to shock and entertain on April Fool’s.

3. Make sure there’s no potential for damage.

What can I say? Be an adult and consider all the potential variables that can happen when the joke is executed. If there’s any chance a mouse, keyboard, notepad full of notes, or a sacred family picture on someone’s desk is going to get wrecked; sack the plan and thank me later! Again, what you find funny, or expendable, may not jive with everyone else in the office.

4. Size matters.

April Fool’s pranks can range from a super-simple whoopee cushion prank in someone’s seat, to a grandiose affair like piling all the office’s furniture into the (extremely friendly) manager’s office, or putting wrapping paper or saran wrap around someone’s car or cubicle. Consider though, that business does have to go on as usual. Work needs to get done, and not much laughter is going to take place if you create a situation where someone, or everyone’s time is going to be taken up being sucked into your prank and the eventual aftermath it might cause.

April Fool's day joke
Image Credit: Tulio/Flickr

5. Don’t be a creep.

Make sure you fess up to your pranks after they’re over. Regardless, whether the outcome is good and lots of people are laughing, or it’s bad and there’s hell to pay for the culprit. Worse, if someone is secretly upset at your joke, the last thing you want is them working all day with suspicions that their mortal enemy “Ted” or “Janet” in the office did this thing just to single them out. All-out war could break out as a result of your innocent prank!

Tell us the best ever April Fool’s you ever pulled off at the office!

Seriously, I’m dying to know and I’m sure other readers are too. Share your best pranks.

Main Image Credit: Oz Lang/Flickr