Are some employees making a mess of your clean open space?

Happy National Clean Off your Desk Day!

People love your office’s clean, open look.

Then they spot that one employee’s cluttered messy space.

Years ago, whether or not you had a messy employee wasn’t such a big deal. The big stacks of paper all over the desk. The empty takeout lunch containers on the floor. The files spilling out over the shelves. They were all safely hidden from view behind walls or inside offices.

But with today’s open space, those messy workspaces are now in plain sight. So what can a company do? Here are a few suggestions that might help:

1. Don’t use the argument that being messy is harming their productivity.

Studies have shown that for some people, the opposite is true. Clutter actually makes them more productive.

2. Don’t blame them.

It’s their jobs that are causing the mess. Before you start laughing, think about it. Are they responsible for purchase requests, invoices, contracts, or other jobs that require a large volume of printed documents? If so, a simple software program might be the answer.

3. Are they just lacking organizational skills?

For some people, being organized and neat is in their DNA. For others, it’s a skill that has to be learned. You may consider all those papers stacked on their desks a mess, but to them it may be their idea of a filing system. The solution? Try taking a few minutes to show them what you do to keep your space so neat. (It is neat, right?)

4. Hold a decluttering day.

But don’t make it seem like a chore. Play music. Bring in food for lunch. Allow employees to dress down. By the end of the day, you’ll have a cleaner office and no one will feel like they’ve been singled out for being messy.

5. If all else fails, try a heart-to-heart.

Some people are oblivious to the affect their untidiness has on everyone else. Sure, other employees may have given a few hints. Pushed the papers out of their areas. Or even joked to them about being messy.

But none have probably come right out and told these messy coworkers how they really feel.

So maybe it’s time you pull those employees aside and have a one-on-one discussion with them about their office clutter. Once they understand how their failure to clean up is affecting the people around them, as well as their image in the company, that may be just enough to make them change their ways.

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