Alex's Thoughts

Clear desk policies

By 5th August 2005 One Comment

When friends in large corporate offices tell me they have a ‘clear desk policy’ I often shudder at the thought of my own desk; a slab of laminated MDF hidden under swatch cards, t-shirt samples, price-lists, job files, post-it-notes and the usual desk detritus. Don’t get me wrong, I can see why big companies try to force their staff to have clean desks, especially if they are client-facing, but surely an individual should organise his desk they way he/she wants. I remember my Latin teacher had a desk which literally over flowed with paper. An extremely bright man and his desk was perhaps just a reflection of his creative inner workings. It would be bizarre to think that he should have been made to keep his desk empty – it just wouldn’t have fit with his personality.

What made me think about this subject was a post on the excellent Signal vs. Noise blog by the web/interface design gurus of 37 Signals. Their web design is excellent and many components of their designs have inspired elements of the Indigo website. Their Defensive Design for the Web book is a regular read when I am in a web design mood. However, I have to disagree about this clear desk productivity thing. I even tried it this week but already 24 hours later most stuff is back. I don’t think it is a bad thing to have a messy desk – it is just the way I work and as long as the work is done, our clients are happy and there is more time to be had having fun rather than tidying up then long live an Indigo office without a clear desk policy!

One Comment

  • John Curtis says:

    I totally agree with your point about clear desk policy, especially in a company where staff have to deal with a lot of paper work and they are working on the same files for weeks and to top it up they do not have sufficient storage space. In such a scenario if the management is forcing them to clear away it would just ensure that more files and important paper work would be lost since just to comply with the company policy staff are just somehow hiding away stuff at each day end.

    I work in such a company!!

    Cheers
    JC

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