These WWII Spy Tips for the Workplace Are Currently Ruining Your Office

Are your co-workers hopelessly incompetent, or strategic plants? You decide.

In 1944, Office of Strategic Services director and world-renowned badass William “Wild Bill” Donovan released the CIA precursor’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual for agency operatives. This super spy pocket guide lays out all kind of nasty ideas on how to seriously fuck up your enemy’s day including starting fires and blowing out electrical systems, but also includes a section that can most aptly be described as “how to be a righteous dick at work.”

While these eight tips were written as mischievous microaggressions designed to disrupt Axis businesses, we dare you, nay double-dog dare you to read this list of direct quotes from the spy manual without mentally matching up your least favorite co-workers to each tip. Not saying you should accuse your co-workers of being World War II era OSS operatives…but can you really be sure?

“Give lengthy and incomprehensible explanations when questioned.”

You just asked where the extra toner is living these days, yet Peter is into minute 14 of explaining his theory on why profit margins drop 3.9 percent when it rains in Cheboygan on the weekends. Is Peter really that dull or is he a government plant? You be the judge.

“Cry and sob hysterically at every occasion, especially when confronted by government clerks.”

Life is stressful for sure. But why does Bill openly weep when you ask him for his notes on the Branson account? Sure, maybe it’s the failed marriage and alcoholism. Or maybe it’s because Bill is a tear-streaked spook.

“Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your points by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.”

You’re not friends with Jerry from accounting, nor do you want to be friends with Jerry from accounting. You only see him leaving the bathroom and at holiday parties. Yet you know everything about him down to his favorite Buffalo Wild Wings dipping sauce and the over-sized American flag bumper-sticker on his Dodge Stratus.

Just saying.

“Do your work poorly and blame it on bad tools, machinery, or equipment. Complain that these things are preventing you from doing your job right.”

Karen’s computer is the exact same make and model as everyone else in the office, yet “the Googles keep deleting her emails” every second Tuesday.

Who do you really work for, Karen?

“Misunderstand” orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can.”

Sure, you might think “We’re out of pens, can we order another box?” is a simple enough request, but what kind of pens? What color ink? Erasable or permanent? Rollerball, gel, or ballpoint? No, the office manager doesn’t have the time for you to walk 100 feet and show her exactly what you need, silly. Better to hash it out over a few dozen one-line emails. Some would say she’s just being thorough, some may say she’s running a sleeper cell out of the supply cabinet. Who are we to say?

“When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large and bureaucratic as possible. Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.”

It’s Friday at 2:45 p.m. You are an hour away from having the deliverables ready for your 4:00 p.m. deadline. You get pulled into a mandatory meeting that was called…to finalize the schedule for next week’s meetings. We’re not saying this is well-planned state-sponsored sabotage, but we’re not saying it ain’t.


“To lower morale and production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.”

Tim can barely button his shirt but just got a promotion and a raise. You can do your job and his without breaking a sweat, and routinely must. Yet he keeps Peter Principling up the ladder while you continue to shovel. Mischief may be afoot.

Act stupid.

Seriously, that’s in the manual. In fairness, what better sabotage than complete and total incompetence. See, all this time you thought your job sucked so bad because you were working with idiots, but what if you’re really working in an office full of James Bonds and Black Widows?

Yeah, we don’t think so either.

Happy Monday.

Related Tags