For most people, their workspace is their own personal domain. When work tends to pile up, it leads to documents stacked up in one corner of the desk and more papers scattered amongst family photos and a half-eaten bar of chocolate. But there’s a method to the madness, right?
While some claim that a disorganised desks can make people more creative, office coaches in Germany say tidy desks makes for easier handovers and faster work.
A so-called Clean Desk Policy requires all documents are ordered and put away each night to leave an empty desk.
According to an office organisation coach, the clear advantage to this is not wasting any time to search for things. This also makes things easier for colleagues take on a workload when someone is sick.
Disorganised desks is a matter of self-organisation. You put the document to one side, creating one pile, then before you know it there’s a second.
Even though lots of employees claim there’s an order to it, that is no way to organise a work space. Those who want an organised and bare desk should first carry out a thorough clean-out.
Then you need to develop a system. In individual companies people should work on it together – for it to work longterm bosses have to convince their teams that it makes sense.
If employees are only half-hearted when it comes to the new system, there’s a danger that the problem will simply manifest itself elsewhere.
This means that even though, the desk is clear, the chaos might be hiding in a drawer.
A clear structure with a bare surface area does have some advantages: Experiments show that lots of stimuli at work lead to unusual solutions while others claim that a disorganised desks make people more creative.
But Siegfried Preiser, a professor at Berlin Psychological University, says that the effect is limited. “You can create a stimulating work environment without a desk covered in rubbish,” he says.
Employees can keep postcards, newspapers and pictures in a drawer if they want to stimulate their creativity, he adds. A view from a window can also help the mind move in unconventional ways.
“What’s important is the variety of information, sensory input and memories that stimulate lots of areas of the brain to connect with each other and enable new thought constellations,” says Preiser.
So it’s also important to give employees the space to organise their own work flows.