People photocopying their own bottoms and being caught in the office stock cupboard with their trousers round their ankles in the act of a sexual liaison.

Just how true are these ‘urban myths’ and ‘friend of a friend’ stories? According to a survey by AirConUK these myths and stories are a result of retelling, exaggeration or simply aren’t true.

Along with the demise of the stockroom snog, the photocopied rear ends also seems to be one of the great tall tales.

Jonathan Ratcliffe, AirConUK, says:

“We’re a little disappointed to say the least, but the truth is that the office prankster has had his day, and people are more wary of behaving inappropriately at work.”

Many office workers had admitted to hearing stories but when challenged only one percent of those questions were able to put names and dates to incidents. Others admitted that stories had been passed down as ‘folklore’ through the company and being retold from incidents that happened years ago.

Ratcliffe adds:

“That’s the thing about urban myths, the stories tend to take on a life of their own, and before long something said in jest to get a laugh over a coffee break becomes gospel truth.”

The lack of genuine office tales is down to changing attitudes in the workplace, according to AirConUK. Ratcliffe says:

“Standards have changed over recent years, and the office prankster is completely out of fashion, killed off by Colin Hunt and the Fast Show in the mid-1990s. Nobody seems to know anybody who has photocopied their bottom, either. Photocopiers are expensive toys to break these days. And let’s not forget that in-office romance is as dead as it’s ever been. The possibility of being called out for sexist or inappropriate behaviour has probably killed off the stock cupboard’s secondary function.”

Ratcliffe believes that the debunking of the office myth making work more or less fun compared to 10 or 15 years ago is now up for debate and the real reason may be closer to hand.

“From what we’ve seen, people are too busy playing with their phones to get up to any real mischief,” he says. “Bunking off on the internet is the new bunking off down the pub.”

The most popular stories are:

  • The stock cupboard snog/sex session
  • Photocopied and/or faxed bare bottom
  • Crashing a board meeting while drunk
  • Epic tales of a staff member quitting after abusing the boss
  • Worker caught running their own private business from the office
  • Colleague caught abusing sick leave so they could have a holiday
  • Industrial-scale theft of office supplies and equipment

Title image credit: disterics