How pranks can help engage your remote staffers

A bit of tomfoolery—as long as it’s harmless and good-natured—can help unite your virtual team and liven up an otherwise tedious workday.

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I love to pull a good, but harmless, office prank.

When we had an office, one of my most favorite things to do was to take a screen grab of someone’s desktop and then replace their desktop with that image.

It looks exactly the same, but when you click on a folder or an application, nothing happens.

After all, it is just an image, so it’s not clickable.

I did this to every new employee for two years. It became a rite of passage. That’s how you knew you were in and how the rest of the team knew you were in. If I didn’t prank you, it was probably because you hadn’t done anything to earn my respect.

The bigger the prank, the more I respected you.

(Eventually I was repaid when they wrapped my entire office in tin foil. I mean, the entire office contents: mouse, pens, books, chairs, nail file, lotion, headphones, everything.)

Knowing a person well enough to prank them

It’s a lot harder to do that with a virtual team.

When Lindsay Bell was our content director, it became a running joke that she was fired nearly every week.

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