The Messy Office

messy-officeHow messy is TOO messy of an office? I’ve worked with all sorts of people when it comes to this. There are the people with the super-bare office — completely clean desks with perhaps one photo on it. I’ve worked with folks where it was so messy that it seemed like they could film an episode of Hoarders in there. And I’ve worked with people where it was “controlled chaos” — one of my bosses memorably kept about 10 tall piles of manilla folders on her desk at all times and would have to go through each pile to find what she needed. Personally, I’ve always been on the messier side of the spectrum, but with the caveat that I can almost always find what I need in under ten minutes.

I suppose I’ve assumed something about each of these coworkers — it is, after all, a bit of a window into how the mind works. I always imagine the bare-office people sitting there grinding their teeth at the slightest noise outside their office that interrupts their concentration — the kind of people who, if their daily schedule gets off by five minutes, their day is irreparably ruined. On the converse, I’ve imagined the truly messy office people (the “how did they get that pile of papers so high?” people) always think a clean office is a good idea in theory… when they get around to it, right after they finish that novel and those other 3 ambitious projects that they never quite seem to start.  That said, for my $.02, the only people I viewed as “less professional” because of their office space had to do more with decor (a big sports-related beanbag chair, an overly pink, matchy-matchy desk set) and less to do with “mess.”

But as a junior employee, are you better advised to keep your office space orderly and neat — even if clients and superiors don’t visit your office frequently? When does a messy office cross the line?

Readers, what do your offices look like?  What do you wish they looked like? What assumptions do you make about other people based on their office space?

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