Managing your office environment

Apple Stores across North America take pride in being paperless environments. They use technology to circumvent reams of paper, with only an occasional departure from their paperless guidelines. Apple may be the exception, rather than the rule.

If memory serves, it wasn’t long ago when “experts” were forecasting that offices around the world would phase out paper. Not due to environmental pressure, but because cutting edge technology would see paper as the 21st century equivalent of papyrus scrolls.

As we all know, forecasting is risky business; the nightly news weather forecast has morphed into a “Meteorological Report.” And it’s still not accurate!

Messy desk cartoon
My point is this – all the forecasting experts, computer geeks, laptop marketers and business wizards got it wrong. We are infatuated with paper. Every computer station in every workplace is effectively a desktop publishing enterprise, even a small printing empire. And this is the problem. How do we manage, file and organize all this paper.

Apparently, according to a new group of experts, many of us don’t. For every desk that’s in perfect order, there’s another covered in a chaotic mess of printed material.

Recently, The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business decided to weigh in on clean desks versus their messy relatives. I was asked to contribute to the article:

Source: Diane Craig, Toronto-based workplace etiquette specialist

  • Contain your stuff. Don't let your belongings spill onto your colleagues' desks, or into the corridor.
  • Don't obstruct daytime traffic. If you need to overhaul your filing system and spread all your possessions out on chairs, do it after hours.
  • Avoid the photo gallery. How much do you really want others to know? Don't display an album of pictures – a few photos will suffice.
  • Avoid extra pairs of shoes, or numerous change of clothes. Your cubicle is not your home closet.
  • Be cautious with foliage. Plants can drop leaves and leak water; do not cultivate a jungle. Remember that others may have allergies to certain plants.

And finally:

Bring in a fridge, a toaster or coffee maker.
Leave dirty dishes on your desk.

Curb your enthusiasm for interior design. It may end up looking like “inferior” design.

Read the article in its entirety and listen to Tavia Grant's Workplace podcast

Please let me know your thoughts. Is your desk polished and poised for take-off or covered in document debris?


The Look of Success by Diane CraigTM Teleseminar for Women starts on Ocober 20, 2009. Learn how to create your own Look of Success in 4 sessions with Diane.

“I’ll show you how to enhance and establish the best looks for your figure, your budget and your lifestyle.”

Details and Registration

Subscribe to our FREE monthly newsletter

Join our Facebook Group Follow me on Twitter linked in logo

Author's Bio: 

Author's Bio
Diane Craig, President of Corporate Class Inc., is a leading image and etiquette consultant. For over 20 years she has provided corporate consultations, helping hundreds of men and women realize their professional and personal goals. She is a sought after speaker at national business meetings, regularly gives comprehensive workshops to corporate groups, and offers private consultations on business etiquette, dress and dining.