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Should a clear desk be company policy?

Cluttered desks are part and parcel of the office environment. While it can be refreshing to discard the disorder, some companies have a clear desk policy that bans mess. The Chartered Management Institute’s Professional Manager asked business people to weigh in on both sides of the argument.

LEGO COO and Executive VP Bali Padda says the company has introduced a new system for its new office where employees don’t have a dedicated desk. Instead, they put their belongings in a locker and find a free desk or quiet corner anywhere in the office. This means there’s no room for clutter anywhere.

Helena Mann, Operations Director at Crunch Accounting, thinks there’s no need for a standard policy. “You’re at your desk for eight or nine hours a day”, so forcing clear desks can negatively impact staff’s feelings, she says. Her company’s only rule is that no confidential paperwork is left in the open.

Meanwhile, Senior Logistics Manager at Innovision Silvia Harriman believes enforced clear desks can help people work more efficiently. “Pyschologically, if everything around you is clean and tidy, it makes your head feel clean and tidy, structured an efficient,” she explains. She also comments that reducing the amount of paperwork employees are allowed to print and keep on their desks can help the environment.

On the other hand, Daniel Campbell, Director of architects Stiff + Trevillion, says companies should provide space that accommodates all styles of working. He states that offices don’t need to look like offices anymore. “Space can be divided up in far more interesting ways,” he comments.

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