A Messy Desk Can Affect Your Professional Reputation: OfficeTeam Survey

Mar 29, 2011 | Corporate Member News

Is a cluttered desk the sign of a cluttered mind? Many human resources (HR) managers interviewed in a new OfficeTeam survey think so. Nearly three in four (73 per cent) respondents said the appearance of an employee’s workspace at least somewhat affects their perception of that person’s professionalism.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 150 Canadian HR managers at companies with 20 or more employees.

HR managers were asked, “How does the neatness of an employee’s desk or office affect your perception of that person’s level of professionalism?” Their responses: 

Greatly affects it 19%
Somewhat affects it 54%
Does not affect it at all 24%
Don’t know/no answer 3%

“A tidy desk won’t necessarily boost your career, but a messy one can leave a bad impression on colleagues,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “By taking simple steps to organise your workspace, you also will be able to find materials more easily and increase your productivity.”

OfficeTeam also polled members of the International Association of Administrative Professionals for desk organisation advice. Here are seven tips provided by survey respondents:

1.  Sit in your visitor chair to get a perspective on what others see when entering your cubicle or office. Clean your workspace so it’s visually appealing not only to you but also to your guests.

2.  From the start, establish an organisation system that suits your style. You can always rearrange items later, but this will prevent things from getting out of hand early on.

3.  File, don’t pile. Eliminate clutter by organising paperwork in vertical or tickler files. Clearly label or color-code documents so you can find them more easily.

4.  Don’t touch the same piece of paper more than once without filing, recycling or tossing it, or passing it along to the next person.

5.  Keep only the materials needed for your current project on your desk, and clear these items after the assignment is completed. Store supplies you need close at hand, and move things that are used less frequently out of the way.

6.  Print documents only when necessary and go paperless. Electronic calendars, task lists or e-mail alerts can help you remember deadlines, appointments and meetings.

7.  Take a few minutes before lunch and again just before leaving the office to clear your workspace. At the end of each day, prioritize the tasks on your to-do list so you can hit the ground running the next morning.

About OfficeTeam

OfficeTeam is a leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals. The company has more than 320 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at http://www.officeteam.com/.

About the International Association of Administrative Professionals

The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) is the world’s largest association for administrative support staff, with more than 550 chapters and approximately 24,000 members and affiliates worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.iaap-hq.org/.

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