If you are sitting at your desk now, take a look around and ask yourself, “what is this desk saying about me?”, for example, what messages does a photo of your mum send to your co-workers, or a low-maintenance cactus, or the tons of boxes and files below your desk?
Ask a psychologist and, unsurprisingly, they’ll tell you that just like the clothes we choose to wear or the meal we take at lunch, our desk is often perceived as an extension of our personalities, nothing ground breaking there but certainly worth bearing in mind.
Recent studies have revealed that desks can be useful to managers attempting to understand and motivate their staff, if you are interested in the way you are perceived at work and perhaps you are thinking of modifying that perception a desktop makeover is a great place to start. When considering the state of your desk and what signals it sends about you, keep in mind the following stereotypes.
The motivated workspace
Strategically placing work targets, charts, graphs and deadlines in plain view of passersby is likely to make them think you are ambitious and goal orientated.
Family, friends and pets
Lost that human touch? Littering your space with pictures of these will give the impression that you are a “people person”, motivated by the relationships around you.
Adventure calendars, holiday postcards and lively screen savers: sprinkling these around says, “I like a good time.” You could well be perceived as the “work to live” type as opposed to the “live to work”.
Need to say, style over substance? Or rather, style with substance, a few well-placed fashionable gadgets or accessories can raise your style stocks, be careful though like beauty, what is a fashionable change between beholders.
The naked desk
Often thought to be the workspace of more introverted types, other introvert signs are building a wall of office files to hide behind or facing your desk in a position where you avoid eye contact. However, with the rise in desktop interpretations perhaps the bare desk is just a clever workplace poker face.
A talking point
Football team memorabilia, pictures of you hugging your favorite band or a model of your dream car build a beacon like this to invite workplace comments. People who are happy to reveal their interests are usually seen as extroverted which can be great, depending on your job.
Need to show your manager that you are better organized this year? The tidy desktop just might help you take a step in the right direction. Workers with an ordered space are usually thought to be conscientious and punctual but then appearances can be deceptive!
Looking to appear capable of high-risk multi-tasking? Consider spreading your stationery across your desk at random, throw in a few half-empty coffees cups, and style a few rough piles of documents. The messy desk can be associated with the flexible multitasking able to switch between jobs quickly and without stress. On the other hand, you could just appear disorganized and unreliable.
The next time you walk across the office, take some time to analyze your colleagues’ and manager’s desktops. You might find a new friend, or realize how your desk needs to look to make your boss smile.