It’s long been believed that a cluttered desk is a sign of low productivity, with the notepads, post-it notes and print-outs providing a distraction from the task at hand. Meaning that now Spring has sprung, a desk clear-out and Spring-clean is on the horizon for many.
However now, according to a recent Yell Business survey of 1,500 small business owners, our thoughts of clutter and its effect on productivity are all wrong. With the majority of the nation’s most successful profit making business owners – 94 per cent – admitting to having an ‘extremely cluttered desk’. With profit being the biggest sign of a productive business and work ethic, it’s safe to say that there is no negative connection between clutter, success and profit.
Following the finding, Yell Business spoke to a collection of workplace interior design experts and coaches for their thoughts on whether cluttered vs. clean is best – and some tips on how to make the best of your desk and ensure productivity is always the focus.
Use it regularly? Keep it close
Gareth Jones, commercial manager at Kit Out My Office says, ‘It comes down to the definition of clutter. As the findings show, many people admit that their desk is cluttered, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t all necessary to their job.
‘De-cluttering could mean that you’re moving important items out of arms-reach that help you in your daily routine, so if you do de-clutter, make sure it is things that you don’t use regularly.’
Don’t bin it – organise it
Georgina Burnett, interiors coach and vlogger at http://www.georginaburnett.com/propertyporn/ says, ‘Mess and clutter can be one of the biggest contributors to procrastination, which in turn tends to stunt productivity. There is a big difference though between prioritising an immaculate desk and just keeping it tidy enough to get cracking on the task in hand – and find the necessary files or tools!
‘One of the habits of successful people is that they can see beyond what is in front of them and not be bogged down by the daily chores that distract others.
‘If you can find a happy medium though, whereby you keep on top of what’s in front of you so that it’s at least an organised chaos, this is likely to make you more effective and also reduce stress levels in the long term. ‘
Replace the unnecessary with the inspiring
Daniel Walsh, marketing manager of Hunts Office says, ‘Eliminate visual clutter & unnecessary items – do you really need that hole punch or pen holder? Not only does a messy desk impede on your productivity, it also impacts on your fellow colleague’s perception of you.
‘Embrace a minimalist workspace and reap the benefits. That said, do enrich your workspace with art or an organic element to empower your working environment.’
This being an approach also echoed by Emma Brindley, resident group interior designer at Redrow Homes, as she offers some tips on how to go about adding to your office to bring some more inspiration and management to the clutter:
‘Consider your wall space and really think about what you need. If you are from a creative background, you are more likely to need to display work. Frame large cork boards and chalk boards with copper, for a contemporary way to keep your work in order as well as having that all important inspiration around you.’
Don’t forget your home office
Yell’s study also found that the home office is hugely popular, especially with business owners. With half of the business owners in the UK opting to work from home for the majority of their time – 49 per cent state that they find it their most productive place of work!
With that in mind, the home office definitely can’t be forgotten about when it comes to treating it as a real place of work – and while clutter has been proven to not hamper productivity, it does need to be treated with more of a heavy hand, to ensure a divide between work and home. To Emma Brindley, a well-ordered and inspirational home office is paramount.
‘The home office or ‘study’ as it is traditionally referred to, can be hard to get right. The ability to immerse yourself back into the comfort of your home life in a couple of steps means the average home-based employee requires a lot of self-discipline and motivation. But when the balance is right the results can be profound – less stress from the commercial office, difficult colleagues and poor resources often means a more productive work day.
‘Make sure you have plenty of storage – wire baskets and weathered wooden crates are always a great industrial inspired addition the office and will stop any ‘clutter’ overflowing outside of the home office.
‘Finally, make sure you finish off your design with the things that matter most, a small wall gallery of family and friends will guarantee to brighten your day should the workload prove heavy.’
Data provided by Yell Business, as a part of their 2017 study that surveyed 1,500 UK small business owners.
Further reading on Spring-clean
Nominations are now open for the British Small Business Awards 2017, the leading event celebrating the brightest stars in the SME sector. Click here to enter, and make sure you get involved today using the hashtag #BSBAwards. Good luck!