The hit Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” has set off a wave of house organization, purging, and general tidying. Many thrift stores and donation centers report being overwhelmed with bags and boxes of items recently filling American’s homes. What, though, of the workplace? Should a similar wave of de-cluttering and cleaning be happening at desks and in cubicles across the country?
Messy or cluttered spaces can make people feel more anxious and stressed, less able to focus, and more likely to procrastinate. It makes sense, then, that workers can boost both productivity and mood with some spring cleaning.
To empower your company to find a place for everything, consider having dedicated time for spring cleaning. Better yet, make it a more frequent activity and do it quarterly or monthly. Just understand that workers may balk at having requirements but no time to complete the task, so don’t expect people to stay late or make the time.
A Few Helpful Tips…
- Stock disinfecting wipes and other tools in a place employees can access to encourage ongoing efforts.
- Why not make it fun?! Order lunch for the team on “office cleaning” day.
- If your organization utilizes an employee engagement platform, you can use that to encourage office tidying when the time comes. Our team has been using an innovative benefit communications technology platform and recently received a “Mindfulness Challenge” to de-clutter our desks (see right) and whoever completed the challenge earned points towards a monthly raffle.
Believe it or not, there is a method that is “best practice” for office tidying. Have your team follow these five steps:
- START WITH THE EASY THINGS: like bringing all those coffee cups back to the office kitchen
- MOVE ON TO LARGER TASKS: like sorting and recycling or shredding irrelevant paper
- GET ORGANIZED: Once a state of tidiness is achieved, then it’s time to get organized. Managers can help by making sure employees have access to file folders, labels, markers and other tools to aid the process of going from chaos to compartmentalized.
- ACTUALLY CLEAN: The Muse reminds workers to also actually clean. Dusting, including your screens and using compressed air on your keyboard, and wiping down surfaces with a disinfectant might keep employees healthier and will definitely help them feel good about their space.
- PERSONALIZE: Finally, take a moment to spruce up, not just clean up. Adding photos or art, getting a few new desk accessories, and other small touches not only help personalize a space, they may just inspire great ideas too.
Think too, about shared and communal spaces. Often, one person winds up as the default fridge cleaner. Create expectations for tidiness but also ensure resentment doesn’t grow. A gift card to a coffee shop for the person everyone knows tackles the task after the fact, or a small compensation in exchange for agreeing to do it ahead of time, can keep things tidy and emotions in check.
Don’t neglect digital spaces, either, according to the Harvard Business Review. Having a logical system for online file storage will set team members up for success. If your workplace doesn’t have one, invest time in creating one. Make time for team members to clean out email and files. Why? Beyond lost time searching for files, responses, or photos, it helps keep systems ship shape when they aren’t burdened with duplicates or gigabytes of unused files. Everyone knows the employee who reaches Inbox Zero on the regular, and the one who has 18,000 unread messages! There are more and more technologies available to help, from streamlining communications to centralizing workplace applications, says HR Technologist, and those tools are smart investments.
Once things are in good shape, it should be easier for your team members to keep it that way. Keep in mind, tidying may not be magical for everyone. There are studies that suggest clutter makes us more creative. And, conversely, that too tidy a space makes people less willing to take a risk or propose a bold idea. Find what works for your teams and champion their spring-cleaning efforts.