We tend to say a lot even when we don’t say anything at all. Everything we are physically associated with, from our clothes to our cars to our homes, send a multitude of subliminal messages to our peers and surroundings. We are taught at a young age not to judge a book by its cover - but what about a desk? Our desk organization, or lack thereof, can be an immediate indicator of our leadership skills, ability to meet deadlines, and frankly, whether or not we would make a good lunch partner.
According to Lily Bernheimer, UK-based environmental psychologist and cofounder and director of Space Works Consulting, you and your coworkers may fall smoothly into one of the following categories.
Clutterers don’t believe in messes. Just because you can’t find their notepad, doesn’t mean they don’t remember that it’s the third notebook down under the yellow – no, the red – lamp. The need for desk-stimuli is a dominant characteristic of our office extroverts and why they submit a messy yet attractive atmosphere. Clutterers dance to a more chaotic beat but their colorful personalities not only add creativity into the workplace but superior social connections as well. Definitely invite the clutterer to lunch.
Where clutterers fail to organize, minimalists can’t work without. A minimalist is that coworker who has a nearly bare desk and the objects that do make the cut are neatly organized and strategically placed. While this lack of desk-personality may reflect someone who isn’t planning on sticking around, in most cases they are sharp, dependable, and perceptive employees who notice details and have a good eye.
Ah, the expander - that one person who feels a little too at home. On average, we spend almost 6 hours daily in the office. Other than for sleeping, that’s more time spent at home! Therefore it’s understandable why expanders seem to “misplace” personal items around the office and lean into others’ territories. While this behavior can encourage a cozy feeling in the office, these type-A personalities can be dominating and ironically, territorial.
Do you have personal items on your desk such as family photos, plants, or that handmade mug you made in Mexico one summer? If so, you’re a personaliser and a bright addition to the office. Personalisers are usually creative and approachable people who have an easiness about them and like to be themselves no matter the environment.
Most people would agree that is it hard to concentrate when there’s commotion. Surveyors are not so worried by what’s on their desk but rather its placement in the office. For these more concerned individuals, a desk in the corner with their back to the wall will do. Surveyors are not necessarily introverts and generally have a solid work ethic - they just need to be focused and in control.
Depending on where you work, you may have a basketball court or a sauna in the office. However, the array of distinct personalities makes office life interesting and equally engaging.