November 22nd, 2016
Your Desk, Your Brand
What does your workspace say about you?
The average full-time employee spends about 2,080 hours at work a year, so it’s no surprise that they personalize their workspace. This helps remind them of their identity, communicate who they are to coworkers and even serve as icebreakers.
A study by Craig Knight found that people who feel comfortable in their workspaces are more engaged with their work. In addition, employees who were allowed to design their own workspaces were 32% more productive than those who weren’t allowed to decorate.
Classics like a family photo or a motivational coffee mug are great items to adorn your desk, but some items can be offensive or uncomfortable. Use your best judgment and make sure what you’re displaying is safe for work. Even though it’s your personal space, it’s still an office space.
So, what does your workspace say about you? Think about it and match yourself with one of our common workplace characters below.
Fanatic Fan Fred
Showcasing love for your favorite team shows loyalty—a good employee trait—but prepare for negative comments from rival fans. Small trinkets like ticket stubs are fine, but leave the giant cheesehead at home. Also, don’t sing the chant song every time someone passes by; you don’t want to be viewed as obnoxious.
A few bobbleheads or figurines arranged on your desk can show the fun and quirky side of your personality, but beware of creating a figurine army. It can make others uncomfortable (nobody wants 30 pairs of creepy doll eyes looking at them) and show a lack of focus or maturity. For those in the creative field, a higher allotment may be acceptable, but your workspace should never be mistaken for a toy store.
Henry likes plants. It’s pretty obvious with his two bonsais, spider plant, cactus and array of flowers. If you have plants, treat them just like Henry does his plants. Dead leaves and a plant starving for water can show a lack commitment and follow through; thriving plants can project accomplishment and show that you’re ready to tackle anything. Oh, one more thing—be respectful and make sure you don’t invade your neighbor’s work area.
Some desks are so pristine they look like they were professionally decorated for a Better Homes and Gardens spread. A white teardrop lamp, espresso machine and orchid arrangement are visually appealing, but might give off the vibe that you care too much about appearances and have OCD. You know those extra-immaculate houses that don’t feel welcoming or comfortable? That might be your desk.
Steve has an array of hand sanitizers in various sizes and scents ready to use at a moment’s notice. He’s also armed with Clorox wipes and a surgical mask at his desk. It’s good to be clean, but there’s a line between being sanitary and making your coworkers feel like they disgust you. This can send the signal that you’re overly cautious and not willing to take chances. You may want to pick a Skittle off the floor and pop it in your mouth, just to show that you’re willing to take risks.
Photo Frenzy Fran
A family photo or a few group shots with friends can be a nice reminder of your life outside the office. This shows that you have a good work-life balance and can manage long-term relationships. But if you’re having a hard time fitting papers on your desk, you may want to scale back on the frames. Too many may give the impression that your mind is elsewhere. Also, be aware of the pictures that are on display. Bikini shots or pictures of you doing keg stands are not appropriate for the office.
Barren desks are clean, but they don’t show much personality and may make you forgettable. It may also show signs that you’re hesitant to settle in and may be looking to jump ship. Put up a picture or two and a couple of pieces of flair so at least people know you work there. You don’t want to come in one day to find someone put the new hire at your desk thinking it was empty.
The opposite of the bare desk is the cluttered workspace that no one wants to look at. For instance, the use of too many papers and sticky notes can show a lack of technology skills. Setting reminders on your phone or making appointments in your email calendar can be way more effective. The clutter also may also lead to coworkers asking themselves other questions: “Wow, is their work this messy?”
Your desk is part of your personal brand. Make sure that the image you’re projecting is honest—in other words, what’s on your desk is an extension of your personality. However, you should also be aware that too much (or too little) of anything might make people classify you as one of the personalities above. So, just like you dress for success, decorate your workspace for success. Find the perfect balance!