How you act and behave around the office is as much an act of keeping up your appearance as it is respecting your coworkers. Nobody wants to come into work with a loud, obnoxious, unhygienic braggart every day and so most people don’t act that way because it’s unprofessional and discourteous to others. However, even if you think you are doing everything right there is still one part of your presence at the office you may have overlooked: your workspace.
Your workspace, be it a cubicle, desk or office, is usually not the only one in the building. Others have to come in contact with it throughout the day and don’t want to see an unorganized mess. But usually messes aren’t the major problem when it comes to a workspace. Since you are usually given free-reign over your workspace, you may be inclined to decorate it to make your time in the office more pleasant. This may include hanging up family photos, motivational quotes, funny little trinkets from home, etc. This is fine if put in reasonable quantities, but we sometimes lose sight of what constitutes ‘reasonable.’
While family photos are fine, don’t line every inch of space in your cubicle with a collage of home photos. This may not bother people but it can be seen as unprofessional by higher-ups. Likewise, and this goes without saying, make sure to not have anything inappropriate on your workspace either. And while this is not restricted, if you plan on hanging anything controversial then you should also anticipate potential confrontations from coworkers with strong opposing views. The resulting conflict may then constitute taking said-controversial material down and will drastically lower your professional image for being involved.
Whenever I think about ‘making your workspace your own’ I always think back to the movie ‘Office Space.’ There is a very small and insignificant exchange between the main character and a coworker named Milton where the radio Milton is playing in his cubicle is distracting the main character. He politely asks Milton to turn it down or plug in headphones. Milton says the boss said he could play the radio and doesn’t turn it down. While he may be allowed to listen to the radio, not listening to such a reasonable request from a fellow coworker is extremely disrespectful and won’t win you any points with the people you work with. You wouldn’t want someone coming late to team meetings and yet taking an equal share of the credit for the final project, so why would anyone want to share a workspace with you if you disrespected them? It’s extremely rude and even more unprofessional.
And finally, if you don’t keep your desk organized in an efficient manner you better believe it’ll come up around review time. Being unorganized is never a good thing, so why would it be okay at work? It isn’t, and ‘unorganized’ shouldn’t be a word people ever associate with you professionally. You work so hard to maintain your image; it would be a real shame if something as small as a messy desk was to shatter it.
By organizing your desk and keeping it work-appropriate you show that you take your job seriously, that you respect your coworkers and that you can fully handle everything in the current job you have. Maybe it’s a sign you’re ready for more responsibility? A clean desk probably won’t get you a promotion, but it certainly won’t keep you from one.
Do you work with someone that has a terribly messy workspace? What do you think of them as a coworker? Share with us in the comments section below!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by ms.Tea