6

Someone left a cup of water precariously balanced on the woman's bathroom door, and you can imagine what happened later.

A coworker left a note on a manager's chair that said "Tack" after a disagreement.

Another hid a potato in a colleagues desk, which was discovered months later by the odor.

Some unknown person periodically places sticky notes all over other's cubicles in colorful patterns and mosaics that take many minutes to remove.

There is not often retaliation, as mostly no one knows who does what, but it is creating suspicion and reduces the time individuals work, as they try to figure out who has done what.

Are these actions common in workplaces, are they acceptable? Many get annoyed, but not for long.

closed as off-topic by gnat, Solar Mike, Malisbad, scaaahu, Francine DeGrood Taylor Aug 21 at 14:19

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  • Good point Abigail. That may not be true. That is how it appears from my limited point of view. – user107558 Aug 18 at 23:51
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    What kind of work are you in? Is this a big head office in a corporate setting or a small startup? – Stun Brick Aug 19 at 7:55
  • "irreversibly annoyed" does not sound good. "reversibly annoyed" doesn't sound a whole lot better. Anyway, sounds like they're on to me. – Strawberry Aug 19 at 13:44
9

Are these actions common in workplaces,

Not in any of the workplaces I have worked for in several eastern and western countries.

are they acceptable?

They should not be because like you mentioned it eats into the time of employees (for both the perpetrator of the prank and its victim). This should be seen as a direct loss of company's assets unless the company thinks it is a great "stress-reliever". I doubt if latter is the case because you have again mentioned that many are annoyed by this, so it is likely adding stress than relieving it.

Company Culture

While other answers have hinted on the company culture but I do not think one should just leave it the way it is in the name of "culture". Companies would also have to evolve their own culture based on what is right for the employees and for the company. This does not sound it is right for either.

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    yep, I failed to make clear in my own answer that "part of company culture" doesn't necessarily mean good/healthy. Thanks for the reminder to clarify this. – Geoffrey Brent Aug 18 at 22:31
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    +1 for highlighting that not every cultural element is healthy. There is no such thing as "reversibly" / "irreversibly" annoyed. If people are getting annoyed by this sort of behavior and not saying anything it is only a matter of time until someone snaps. – Juliana Karasawa Souza Aug 20 at 10:55
15

In some workplaces, practical jokes are part of the office culture (this doesn't necessarily mean a healthy part of office culture). In others, they're likely to get people disciplined or even fired.

Not everybody has the same background or the same sense of humour. Even if the "joke" was meant purely in fun, it may not be taken that way by the target of the joke, and sometimes it's not just in fun.

Workplace bullies often use "just joking" as an excuse for harassment. A workplace with a culture of practical jokes gives those people cover for malicious behaviour. That seems like a decent reason to discourage such behaviour in the workplace; there are other ways to have fun that don't risk getting into a bullying/harassment case.

4

The jokes you mentioned cross the line from "little practical joke" to "the person has nothing to do but annoy his co-workers".

Someone left a cup of water precariously balanced on the woman's bathroom door, and you can imagine what happened later.

No, i can't, since i don't know if any of the woman carried a company laptop when entering the room.

A coworker left a note on a manager's chair that said "Tack" after a disagreement.

Very grown up.

Another hid a potato in a colleagues desk, which was discovered months later by the odor.

What a jerk. So people in the office suffered bad smell for some month, an potentially the potato juice sapped to the other things in the desk and it took an hour of cleaning and potentially every bodies time looking for the source. this is intentionally wasting company time.

Some unknown person periodically places sticky notes all over other's cubicles in colorful patterns and mosaics that take many minutes to remove.

Abuse of work time - many minutes to take away also means many minutes to put these.

There is not often retaliation, as mostly no one knows who does what, but it is creating suspicion and reduces the time individuals work, as they try to figure out who has done what.

If I would be the manager i would get a hidden cam installed for some time (if thats legally allowed), and the first one which I catch would get walked of the plank.

Are these actions common in workplaces, are they acceptable? Many get annoyed, but not for long.

No, they are not. If you have friend who like it, please prank them (and not you colleagues)

0

In my old career there were times when they were common and times when they were a reason to be written up. We had a stressful job so for us it broke up the boredom a bit during downtime. Often it was our way of welcoming someone to the team other times it was just for a laugh. However I've seen it used as a way to isolate and bully people (I'll admit I was guilty of this as well). These ranged from putting the little circle papers found in the bottom of a hole puncher (looks like confetti) into the work car aircon outlet, point it at the drivers face, turn it up full blast and wait for the guy to turn the car on. Other things were silly juvenile games like drawing certain parts of a male anatomy in any notebooks we found that were unattended.

In a corporate culture, however, it is out of the question. Never seen it, never heard of anyone doing it and I can imagine with our HR departments lack of a sense of humor it would be grounds for some sort of unpleasant action.

  • I hope you drew the anatomy 5-10 pages further in – Smock Aug 19 at 12:51
  • @Smock there were no rules, sometimes in older pages already written on, other times a few pages in. You learn not to leave it lying around pretty quick. – solarflare Aug 20 at 22:44
  • ooh pages already written on, hadn't thought of that, I like it! – Smock Aug 21 at 9:53
-1

You have 4 posts in New right now about how bad your company is. Is it really that bad? I mean I could imagine one or two of these things going on at a single company, but all of them? Honestly to me it seems like you're creating problems where there aren't any. Try not to look for the insult in everything, it will make your life better.

  • 1
    This neither constructive nor an answer...a comment at best. Have a gander at the Tour and Help pages. – Crosbonaught Aug 20 at 20:24
  • It is both constructive and an answer. – DetectivePikachu Aug 20 at 20:26
  • @Ĵošħ Williard That's pretty funny. You are right. All the situations are real, some going on now, others in the past. I was just looking for advice on handling different situations. I did find a lot of helpful observations from people on this forum. I am acting on many of them. Thanks for pointing out what I am obviously doing. I really needed the answers that I got. – user107558 Aug 21 at 0:13