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The Importance of a Clean Workspace

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Is your office messy, unsanitary, or filled with distractions?  If so, a slight renovation could do you some good. Turns out, the state of your workspace can not only affect your own productivity, but your ability to gain trust, respect, and confidence from surrounding co-workers and employees. 

When it comes to lasting impressions, it’s not surprising that piles of disorganized papers can deter people from wanting to work with you. However, who would have guessed that a picture on your desk, a dying plant on your file cabinet, or even a bobble head next to your phone could raise questions about the way you work?

But these types of subtleties are exactly the things that can mislead stakeholders into believing you are bored, unproductive, not serious, introverted, overly demanding or even untrustworthy. According to Lisa Marie Luccioni, professor of communication at the University of Cincinnati, “everything in your office sends a message, whether you want it to or not.”

workplace productivity and organization

© Flickr user Jeffrey Beall

A Forbes article echoed these sentiments:

According to a new survey of over 1000 workers by staffing firm Adecco, a majority of Americans (57%) admit they judge coworkers by how clean or dirty they keep their workspaces. Meanwhile, nearly half say they have been “appalled” by how messy a colleagues’ office is and most chalk it up to pure laziness.

“With so many open office plans today, more people can see into your workspace, and they do judge,” says Jennie Dede, vice president of recruiting for Adecco. “It’s often personal. They think that you must be a slob in your real life.”

This comes after a report last year by OfficeMax that found that office clutter undermines productivity and motivation. “Your performance coincides with your workspace,” says Dede. “When it’s organized and precise you have the mindset and motivation to work.”

If you’ve let your clutter get out of hand, it might be time for some spring cleaning. Whether you’re in a cube or a c-suite, organization experts offer timeless tips to streamline the mess and keep your office tidy year-round.

Like a clean desktop, a clear floor will instantly lighten up the feel of the office space. Gym bags, purses, outerwear and changes of shoes quickly overwhelm the space and look chaotic. Jane Brown, founder of organization and design firm Jane Brown Interiors, suggests hanging hooks in your office or from your cubicle walls to gets coats, umbrellas and bags off the floor. Designate a drawer or shelf for large bags or extra shoes. But be careful not to overload the walls. Dede notes that cluttered corkboards and crooked pictures will undo the effort of clearing your floor and desk.

That article goes on to say that 75% of workers surveyed believe themselves to be more productive when their workspace is clean. Regardless of whether there’s any scientific fact to back that up, the mind is a powerful thing, and if people believe it to be true, then it might as well be.

The observation AccelaWork is compelled to make however, doesn’t just involve the state of an individual’s workspace. Instead, we choose to examine the overall state of an individual’s work environment. After all, a messy desk may just be the first sign of a bigger problem with workplace productivity. If an employee is forced to work with an inefficient process that allows no room for improvement or creativity, side effects like disorganization, boredom, or indulged distraction can take over. In the end, even day-dreaming could be product of a powerless employee.

By empowering employees to create new systems and encouraging them to take pride in their own productivity, a proper, manageable workspace will easily result. Open the doors to your stakeholders and give them the freedom to create a better, more conducive workflow. Contact our business process improvement consultants today to learn more about how we  can help rearrange the way work is judged.

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