Messy desk affects professional reputation: Survey

Go paperless, stay organized to maintain professional image
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 04/01/2011

Is a cluttered desk the sign of a cluttered mind? Many HR managers think so, according to a survey by OfficeTeam. Seventy-three per cent of the 150 respondents said the appearance of an employee's workspace at least somewhat affects their perception of that person's professionalism.

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?" Nineteen per cent of respondents said it greatly affects it; 54 per cent said somewhat; 24 per cent said does not affect it at all; and three per cent said they didn’t know.

"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 organize your workspace, you also will be able to find materials more easily and increase your productivity."

The International Association of Administrative Professionals recommended several tips for desk organization:

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.

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

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

•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.

•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.

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

•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.

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