What It Says About You If Your Desk Is Cluttered (or Clean) 

You have valuable skills to offer, regardless of whether or not your desk is a disorganized mess. The contents of your desk reveal the following information about you:

  • Your personality and the abilities you possess can be inferred from the state of your desk, whether it be messy or clean.
  • According to the findings of a study, people who worked in environments that were kept clean reported feeling more encouraged to engage in constructive and positive activities.
  • Messy environments might be good for creative thinking, but messy desks are a surefire way to turn off bosses, coworkers, and customers.
  • This article is geared toward managers and other professionals who are seeking to understand what a person’s personality and skill set can be inferred from their desk setup.
  • The proverb “Cleanliness is second to godliness” is probably something that all of us have heard before. Workplace cleanliness may be essential to one’s professional success in this age of minimalism, which is exemplified by the widespread popularity of books such as Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Having a messy desk, on the other hand, is not necessarily indicative of having a cluttered mind. Studies have shown that a person’s personality can be gleaned from their desk in a variety of ways, and both neat and untidy desks bring value to the workplace.

What Does Your Desk’s Situation Say About You?

Got a cluttered desk? It could mean that you are creative and brimming with fresh ideas, so try not to worry about it. On the other hand, tidier desks have been associated with more generous and traditional behavior. In any case, the office has sufficient space to accommodate both types of workstations – as well as individuals. Workers whose desks are in various levels of organization and tidiness may have particular abilities to provide employers and coworkers, according to a study that has been cited numerous times and was conducted at the University of Minnesota.

“A tidy environment pushes people to do wonderful things: not interact in crime, not litter, and show more kindness,” said Kathleen Vohs, a psychological scientist from the University of Minnesota who participated in the study. Vohs was one of the people who helped conduct the research. “However, we discovered that being in a chaotic environment can lead to the production of really beneficial results.”

Have you been informed? Have I told you… Some people may thrive in a cluttered environment, but experts agree that clearing off a desk and tidying up the area around it is one of the best ways to establish a workspace that boosts productivity.

What Are the Advantages That Come With Having a Clean Environment?

The study investigated the differences between clean and untidy environments and their effects. In the first of a series of experiments, the participants were questioned in an office setting and requested to fill out some questionnaires. Others were able to finish the task despite working in an untidy office where documents were scattered about and office equipment cluttered the area. After that, an opportunity to make a charitable contribution was provided to the participants, and they were also given the option of taking a snack of chocolate or an apple with them as they left the event.

Surprisingly, the participants in the study seemed to abide more by society’s expectations of decent behavior as a consequence of the clean environment that the researchers had created. For instance, they gave much more of their money to charitable organizations and were more likely to opt for an apple rather than chocolate when it came to their afternoon snack.

What Are the Advantages of Having a Cluttered Space?

However, cleanliness was not a clear winner in terms of its impact on the environment. The researchers theorize that untidiness might also have some positives and upsides, and they discovered several examples that supported their hypothesis.

The Messier the Environment, the More Creative the Results

Within the context of a second experiment, participants were tasked with thinking of novel applications for ping-pong balls. In general, the participants who worked in the messy room came up with the same amount of suggestions as their counterparts who worked in the clean room. However, when their ideas were evaluated by judges who were not affiliated with either party, they were rated higher for interestingness and creativity. Vohs observed that being in a cluttered space led to an increase in creative output, which is something that businesses, industries, and societies all want more of.

The Main Takeaway

The most important thing to remember is that although studies have shown that creativity can be taught, it is most likely not a good idea to promote messy desks as a means of increasing creativity within an organization.

The Disorganization Paved the Way for Original Ideas

Messy-room dwellers were more inclined to choose a new product when the respondents were given the option between a new product and an existing one; this indicates that a cluttered environment may induce a release from conformism.

On the other hand, the participants in the tidy room gave the established product a higher rating than the new one. According to Vohs, “cluttered environments seem to encourage stepping away from tradition,” which can result in the production of fresh insights. “Ordered environments, on the other hand, foster conformity and a preference for playing it safe.”

Surprisingly, it did not appear that the precise physical location made a difference. Vohs said, “We utilized 6 various locations in our paper; the specific details of the rooms were not significant.” People’s actions were drastically altered simply by maintaining or not maintaining the environment that they were in.

What Should We Do About a Cluttered Online Space?

It’s possible that a virtual environment isn’t the best place to try out experimenting with untidiness. 75% of users, according to a study conducted by Stanford on web credibility, judge the legitimacy of a business based on the design of its website. Clutter on a website, difficulty navigating the site, and slow page load times are all factors that can influence customer behavior and cause them to refrain from making purchases.

On the other hand, website landing pages that are organized well and free of clutter have a better chance of generating sales. In general, a well-designed website will instill a sense of confidence in its visitors, create a favorable first perception of your company, and simplify the process of your target audience understanding the goods or services that your company offers. When it comes to designing a virtual space for your company, it is probably best to stay with a classic look and save the untidiness of your desk. This will ensure that your virtual environment is as professional looking as possible.

What Does It Say About a Person When Their Desk is a Complete Mess?

A cluttered desk can convey several different messages, including that the person who uses it is disorganized, that they are in the midst of a challenging project, or that they are simply unmotivated to tidy up after themselves and do not want to take the time to do so. Even if there is a good reason for keeping a cluttered desk, it is essential to be aware that this is how it might appear to other people.

“A cluttered desk can be an indication of laziness or it could be a sign that you’re hard at work on something incredibly important,” said Kimberly Tyler-Smith, an executive at the career technology platform Resume Worded. In either case, it is essential to manage the workspaces of your employees in a way that is conducive to the overall success of the team.

When an employee’s desk gets too messy, it can slow down their work and even make it difficult for their coworkers to do their jobs. A tidy desk (or at the very least, tolerably free of clutter) makes it easier to move around and perform tasks, and it also provides space for placing helpful tools such as equipment, instruments, and lighting. Before reprimanding an employee for having a cluttered desk, you should always make sure to take into account what it is that they are currently working on.

“They need the liberty to leave their desk cluttered if they are working on a project that necessitates them to have their hands full and their head stuck in their work,” she said. “On the contrary, if your employee seems to be putting off tasks by being complacent and leaving their desk cluttered, then it’s time for some discipline. If their desk is chaos, they should be held accountable for it. You may need to inform them of how unprofessional it appears when they do not take better care of their working space.

Have I told you… Industrial-organizational psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on helping businesses get the most out of their teams by analyzing individual behavioral patterns and needs in the workplace.

What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Having an Employee Whose Desk is Always a Mess?

Both employees who keep their desks clean and those who keep them cluttered have benefits and drawbacks. The most important thing is to have a good grasp on how to organize your team and encourage them to be as efficient as they can be. Employees with messy desks have several benefits, including the following:

There’s a Possibility That a Cluttered Desk Will Stimulate Your Creativity

Businesses that do creative work might want to encourage some employees to keep their desks a little bit messy. There is a common perception that creative geniuses, such as Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, and Albert Einstein, all keep their desks in a disorganized state.

Disorganized desks Often Indicate That Work is Being Done

Different people will approach their work in their special way. A person who is deeply engaged in a task and is enveloped by working parts and piles of paper may have a messy desk as a sign that they are overwhelmed by the work. There is no reason to be concerned if the momentary clutter is the result of a productive employee’s process. Cluttered desks have several disadvantages, including the following:

Colleagues May Feel Resentment Toward Their Colleagues Who Keep Their Desks Messy

There is a correlation between having a messy desk and having more conflicts at work and fewer friends at work. People who work in an office with others might prefer employees whose desks are clean and find it annoying when a coworker has a messy desk. They may avoid working with their colleague who keeps a messy desk because they feel resentment toward the physical space that is taken up by the clutter on their desk.

Customers Might Be Put Off by Employees Who Keep Their Desks Cluttered

Employees with messy desks may be innovative and full of good ideas; however, you probably do not want their piles of papers to be showcased in front of customers. If the employee’s promotion depends on their ability to interact well with customers, a cluttered desk could hurt their chances of getting the job. Additionally, in an open office setting where a variety of customers and suppliers come and go throughout the day, the cluttered desk of a coworker can be both embarrassing and distracting.

Cluttered Desk Employees Have Worth

Employees whose desks are a mess shouldn’t be judged too harshly. Your company may benefit from its inventiveness, unique working process, and creative spirit in the form of innovations, insights, and original ideas. The challenge for leaders is to recognize and acknowledge the personal preferences and processes of their employees, as well as to learn how to best utilize the one-of-a-kind skills of each individual for the benefit of the organization.