Decluttering Your Workspace

July 18, 2015 | Roger
  • Is clutter costing you customers?
  • When was the last time you took a look at your company’s premises through a customer’s eyes?
  • What do customers see when they walk into your business?

Do they see shiny, fresh, and sleek that says, “We’re successful here and you want to join us!”

Or do they see tired, cluttered, and disorganized that says, “We’re inefficient and probably don’t have the highest quality products.”

Employee productivity suffers as well as sales when your offices and premises are cluttered, disorganized, and dirty.

If there’s any doubt, that decluttering your workspace leads to increased profits in the form of customer attraction and retention, here’s the proof:

  • 57% of people judge companies based on the state of the workspace, according to a survey of U.S. workers by Adecco. A clean space sends the message that you’re organized and accomplished, while a disheveled one implies that the rest of your life is in a similar state.
  • A new survey by OfficeMax of over 1,000 adults found that 90% of Americans believe clutter has a negative impact on their lives and work.
  • 77% said clutter damages their productivity, in line with previous studies revealing that executives waste 6 weeks a year searching for lost items and information.
  • Over half of respondents said disorganization impairs their state of mind and motivation and 2 out of 5 said it hurts their professional image.

Decluttering your workspace

Hopefully I’ve convinced you that decluttering your workspace is something you should do now. Here are 11 ways, some from a Forbes article and some of mine from years of business coaching:

  1. Use file cabinets, drawers, and storage cabinets for storage. Never use flat surfaces—desks, countertops—to store papers, your coffee cup, or your collection of 3 different paper clip sizes.
  2. Do use flat surfaces to sparingly display tasteful items of décor—a plant, statue, lamp, or nice pen set—or of a personal nature—like photos, books, or awards. Supplies of pens, pencils, scissors, paper clips, stamp pads, rubber bands, and hand lotions are not décor.
  3. Don’t hang bunches of crooked notes, calendars, post-its, pics, cock-eyed charts, and ill-framed awards. Organize these things out of sight and hang tasteful well-framed artwork or photos… and make sure they’re hanging straight.
  4. Keep one drawer empty and use it to place all of today’s work so that it’s ready to go the next morning.
  5. Hang hooks or get coatracks for coats, jackets, purses, backpacks, gym bags, etc.
  6. To manage paper, make 3 hanging files or baskets: To Read, To Do, and To File. Make sure to clear each out at least weekly (or more).
  7. At the end of each shift, ask employees to stop working 3 minutes early and clean—throw paper cups away, clear all flat surfaces, dust or polish a thing or two, trim the brown leaves from the plant, tidy the breakroom, or even toss a few old documents from a file.
  8. Hire a cleaning service, even its just monthly. Don’t try to do the major cleaning yourself. YOU CAN’T SEE YOUR OWN DIRT because you don’t notice it accumulating over time.
  9. Every time you add, take away—add new documents to the front of a file, pull out some old ones from the back. Add a book or binder to the shelf, take one away.
  10. Put everything in its final resting place. Whether that be a filing cabinet, trash can, or cabinet in the storage room, handle things, papers especially, only once.
  11. Finally, put some rules in place for decluttering your workspace. While I believe strongly that it’s important for employees to have as much control over their jobs as possible, office décor and upkeep is one place for you to maintain control. Have a meeting and get employees to brainstorm and agree on a few ground rules, like: Only neat and healthy plants, all personal items stored in drawers, etc.

Get your staff on board. Start by explaining WHY you want to do this, what the benefits are, and what’s in it for them. Then get their input.

Here’s a final fun-fact… a recent study showed that people with cluttered homes are 77% more likely to be overweight. Here’s a recent and what looks like a fun and informative read – Peter Walsh’s (from OWN’s ”Enough Already!”) book Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight.