Tidy Or Messy Office Desk: Does It Matter?

When it comes to increasing productivity in the workplace, businesses adopt various ways to ensure their employees are comfortable. From investing in a games room where employees can relax to providing them with comfortable furniture like ergonomic desks. But can the way employees maintain their desks have an effect on the way they work?Inyour workplace, are you the one who cleans their desk every day? Or do you like things to just be left lying on your workstation while you focus on your task? Do use desk screens to pin task lists, important notices, etc.? Does everything being in its designated place make you feel better? The kind of physical environment one is comfortable working in says a lot about their personality and performance at work. Read the following points to understand whether it is better to be a stickler for neatness or a slob when it comes to your desk.

Vohs’ study

There are many studies that explain the importance of a clean working environment. However,the new studies conducted by psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs and her fellow researchers from the University of Minnesotastate the opposite. According to the scientist, those who wish to have a neat and clean workspace might be more generous and are less likely to engage in crime and littering. However, this kind of a workspace might be holding them back from an important attribute, which many businesses look for: creativity. According to her study, a messy environment can make one creative and help one break free from the conventional way of thinking. On the other hand, orderly environments foster social responsibility and moral behaviour such as eating healthily and giving to charity.

Tidy workspace for promoting social responsibility

In the study conducted by Vohs and her team, 34 participants were given questionnaires, with half of the participants working in an orderly environment and others in a messy one. Once they were done with the questionnaires, they were given an option to give to charity. Also, they were offered a choice between an apple and chocolate bar while leaving. According to the study, 82% of the participants in the tidy room donated money, whereas just 47% of the individuals in the cluttered room did. In regard to the food choice, the researchers found that 67 per cent of people in the tidy room chose the apple rather than the chocolate, while only 20 per cent of the participants in the messy room picked the healthier option. Thanks tothis part of the study, it could be inferred that tidy environments are better suited for promoting social responsibility and healthier behaviours.

Chaotic workspace for encouraging creativity

In the second part of the study, 48 participants were asked to generate novel uses for a ping-pong ball.Again the participants were asked to work in different workspaces. Although participants from both the rooms came up with the same number of ideas, an independent panel found the ideas from the messy room to be more creative. The second part of the study implies that messy environments can encourage originality and innovation.

Classic VS New

In the final part of the experiment, 188 participants were told that they were studying menu preferences for a nearby snack bar. The participants were divided again in orderto choose a health, wellness or vitamin “boost” for a smoothie. Some of the boosts were labelled “classic” and other “new”. According to the study, participants in the neat room were more likely to choose the health boost labelled “classic,” and people in the messy room were more likely to choose the health boost labelled “new.” This helps conclude that individuals in an orderly setting are more drawn to conventional frameworks, whereas those in the disordered spaces are open to new ideas (Winerman L, 2013).

The results of the study state that the workspace one maintains has an impact on performance. If you are too particular about keeping things in order, creativity might suffer. Whereas, if you are comfortable working at a cluttered office desk, your colleagues might feel stressed out by the lack of organisation and the moral values of your team may decline. Hence, the kind of a workspace you need to maintain depends on the type of work you do and what values are most important.