Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What your desk says about you

Written by Heather Dugan for Salary.com

It speaks for you even when you're out of the office doing your thing to make the company wildly successful. Positive words? We hope. But it can also interrupt and speak out of turn, relaying completely unauthorized messages.

Your desk. 

What does it say about you? Does it convey the message "Respect the owner of this hallowed professional space?" or "Attention: creativity in progress?" Or does it warn "Caution: finding that file is going to take a while?"

Your positive words & actions still speak loudest, but they'll have less impact if your workspace sends a conflicting message. It’s worth a few minutes to make sure your desk is an effective envoy for your professional abilities.

l'd Rather Be Anywhere But Here

A couple of office appropriate vacation photos are fine, and give that faint bronze glow you're sporting some context. But a countdown calendar to your next getaway (272 DAYS!) or a predominance of souvenir drink umbrellas in your pencil holder might indicate that you're more invested in the cruise brochures pinned to your cork board than to next week's marketing presentations.

Confirm you're committed to the present and open for business by minimizing indicators that you'd rather be elsewhere.

A Clean Desk Is Good, But A Sterile Workspace is Creepy

While it's reassuring to know an employee isn't likely to max out his or her sick days, an overload of air fresheners and sanitizers could indicate an unhealthy obsession. Clean is commendable. Sterile is scary (unless you're in a medical or food field, in which case, as you were...). 

And please, no antibacterial hand washing while others are present. They'll either wonder where you just were or where you think they just were.

Fewer Toys.  You're Not a Kid Anymore

There is a bit of a double standard when it comes to office toys.  The stuffed monkeys, bobbleheads, lava lamps and mini basketball nets that often claim the desk space of those in creative fields can amplify that sense of an imagination at work. On the desk of a financial type, however, such toys may indicate a lack of focus (or potential toddlers lurking under the desk).

Take your cue from respected peers and your boss. In any case, don't replicate a toy store unless you have the inventory to back it up. Your desk should say "works well with others," not that you have more toys than a fifth-grader.

Sticky Notes = A Lack of Technology Skills

If a light breeze would pose a threat to your task organization, it's time to pull down the sticky notes and start compiling your lists in a way more befitting the 21st century. 

The problem with paper lists is they quickly become part of the landscape. They put down roots, colonize and quietly clutter your space without your realization, creating an illusion of control for you while projecting a picture of disorganization to others. Digital organization is the answer and calendar alarms will be ever more effective than even the most emphatic "Don't Forget!!!"

To see more about what your desk says about you, read the article here.  

What knick knacks or mementos do you keep at your desk?  Tell us below in the "Comments" section.