Abolish the clean desk policy in your office to increase creativity

Research carried out by the Association for Psychological Science says a clean desk can actually stifle creativity, and a little bit of mess would probably do us good.

Kit Out My Office, an online retailer of office furniture, believes that offices throughout the country should stop operating a clean desk policy, as experts believe it can hamper creativity.

According to a study by the Association for Psychological Science, a clean office can actually stifle creativity. Psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs, who undertook the study says, ‘Our study found that disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights.’

Kathleen Vohs and her colleagues undertook several tests where participants were asked to fill out questionnaires in an office environment. Some were sent to a clean and orderly office whilst others were sent to complete the form in a messy office.

After the questionnaires, participants were asked to commence several exercises, ranging from trivial administrative tasks through to finding new uses for ping pong balls.

The study found that participants who spent time in a messy office generated more interesting creative ideas in comparison to those generated by individuals who spent time in the clean and tidy environment.

So, should you embrace the messy desk policy?

Gareth Jones, commercial manager at Kit Out My Office, believes that companies should indeed be doing more to stand out. He goes on to explains, ‘We must remember that the business world is forever getting more crowded, with businesses constantly striving to outshine each other. With this in mind, we must be more creative than ever before.

‘This is why I strongly believe more companies should embrace the idea of getting rid of the archaic clean desk policy. The study by the Association for Psychological Science proves you can perform better without it.’

But, you do not have to rely on the words of Gareth Jones. Albert Einstein once says, ‘If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?’

One individual embracing the messy desk policy and encouraging her clients to do so is business strategist Nimisha Brahmbhatt, ‘I have always been one of those people who always works in a mess. To be, mess is a sign of creativity and activity – things are actually happening. Messiness allows the brain to get visual and creative, a great source for problem solving!’

If you work in an office that operates a clean desk policy and loathe it, hopefully this will give you enough ammunition to counter it or at a minimum open discussion within your workplace on the need for the policy.

Further reading on clean desk

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

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