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9 Things your desk says about you.

And tips for an optimal workspace that will increase productivity.

It was Benjamin Franklin who said: “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” Your work space says a lot about you as an employee. Maybe it screams “professional!” maybe it tells a story of “creativity” or even asks the question “how does he/she get things done with such a cluttered desk?” Whether you only have a desk to work at or are fortunate enough to have an office, your surroundings and how you organize your work space affects your productivity and personal image.

Your workspace is an extension of your personal brand and shows others who you are and what they can expect from you. You might not think that it is a major thing, but your workspace reveals a lot about you as a person and can create a different image than what you want people to think of you and your actual work abilities.

  1. Is your desk clean or messy? A clean desk demands respect. Hygiene also plays a role in the productivity of the entire office. A lack of general personal hygiene increase germs and can result in absenteeism. However, you don’t need to have a sterile work space unless your type of work demands it. Dirty desks and computers are NEVER beneficial to anyone and are just plain gross. Some people say if it is not dirty, a well-managed mess is okay as long as you know where what is. However, how much time do you spend looking for a file or document in your mess of a desk? And what image about you and your work do you portray if this is the case?

    A clean neat desk is more appropriate and shows you are professional, organized, productive and efficient. It can still have creative decor and colour, but should be kept neat, clean and organized.

  2. Are you a Minimalist or a Hoarder? Having a simple workstation, but still conveying your personality, is the way to go. Decluttered, routine and organization shows you know exactly what is expected of you and you are able to tackle each day with efficiency. Hoarders have a lot of stuff and in essence a lot of stuff that needs cleaning. It makes it also difficult for cleaning staff to do their work, which can result in a dirty ‘germ-invested’ office space.
  3. Toys, too many holiday and family photos are distractions that show your body is there but your mind is on a different mission.  It also shows you don’t really want to be at work, and might suggest a lack of commitment. You are not a child anymore as well, and although in some instances a mind game is good to boost your creativity, your office or desk should not have too many toys or distracting items. One family photo is enough, but wallpapering your entire office of your kids and vacations, blurs the line between family and work time.
  4. Whose workstation is this? If there is nothing on your workstation it shows a lack of personality and character. Going the extreme route of having absolutely nothing on your desk of office is also undesirable as it might suggest that you are not coming back in the morning. You spend a third of your life at work and with your fellow co-workers. A certain amount of socializing is expected. People form an opinion of who you are by looking at your desk. You should recreate your personality and character in your office or on your desk to a reasonable extent, but in moderation.   
  5. Going green in the office shows a healthy employee who cares. Again don’t overdo it by creating a jungle with your plants and office pets. The latter can have a negative effect as well. For one co-workers might not find you between all the plants or you might not find your computer. Please don’t keep dead office plants or a fish tank that smells as this too doesn’t portray a healthy caring worker. Just saying.
  6. It’s not only about the desk but also the desktop computer. Organize and stick to business during office hours. You should always be organized on your desktop. This will not only help you find files easier and reduce search time to increase productivity, but will also assist a temporary worker when they stand in for you during sick or maternity leave. Don’t store your personal photos or memes on your computer. Rather create a Gmail account for personal emails. Don’t misuse the work’s email address for personal use. And stay off of social media (if it is not in your job description).
  7. Pills, countless coffee mugs and loads of energy drinks might show a dependency and a lack of balance. Unless you are pulling an all-nighter to keep to a deadline, regular excess empty coffee mugs and energy drink cans standing around all day is a no-no. Medication should be taken in private. You don’t need to display it to the world. Co-workers and managers might think you have a problem or an addiction. So throw away the empty cans, rinse out your coffee mugs and pack them away in the evenings. If you do decide to have some painkillers on standby, hide them in a desk draw, keep them in your pocket or handbag.
  8. Your desk reveals if you are an introvert or extrovert. The way you organize your desk can either be inviting, or tell people to stay away. Books you keep or the way you arrange your desk and even the colour schemes you use can tell people what your interests are. Through this people can get a ‘creative out-of-the-box kind of thinker vibe’ or develop a feeling of a concrete thinker and traditionalist. Either way, your desk tells people in which way they should approach you.
  9. Personalizing your desk states commitment and openness to new ideas. No need to make your work space look like your home. That’s just creepy and it might seem that you moving in. Only add a few items that reveal who you are like a personalized coffee mug, a plant and one photo. But make sure everything has a place, is clean and neatly organised.

 A workstation or office space is a silent canvas for you to express you personality. It is easy to fall into a comfort zone when at the office. Sometimes all you and your work space need is a good organizing and spring cleaning to get inspiration and be more productive. By keeping everything in moderation you can use your workstation to your benefit.