Stop and think twice before cracking a joke at your workplace the next time, for people prowling around could see you being chased out of the company.
The office has always been prolific ground for practical jokes, witty one-liners, rude gags and general clowning around. However, easy electronic communication and the workplace's growing synchronization with cultural diversity and worker sensitivity has made it difficult to avoid crossing the line into offensive territory.
Advertisement"What I see happening in organisations is that there is less tolerance for offensive humour," News.com.au quoted Dr Patrick Gilbert of human resources firm Mercer Consulting, as saying.
He added that though workplace humour was a good thing on the whole, it could take the form of biased or "bullying-like behaviour".
For instance, the European head of Barclaycard, the credit card arm of Barclays, was fired allegedly because of a joke that offended fellow employees.
According to London's The Daily Telegraph, Marc Howells was discussing quarterly results with his staff when he joked, "Some were good, some were Shi'ite," in reference to the denomination of Muslim faith.
According to writer Toby Young, whose book How to Lose Friends and Alienate People chronicled his many failed attempts to charm co-workers through humour when he worked at US magazine Vanity Fair, it's not worth making a joke at the workplace.
"It is a risk that simply isn't worth taking. In almost every case, you're flouting authority. And that is often punishable by dismissal," he said.
However, human resources experts have taken a more optimistic view of workplace humour.
Management consultant and trainer Terry Gillen said the office was a social arena as much as a place of work.
He said that though some employees took humour too far, essentially it brought the staff closer together.