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Why clean desks can be good for your people, your teams and your business

January 9 is National Clean Off Your Desk Day, and a great opportunity for employees to start the new year afresh with an organized workspace as well as a calm mindset.

A messy desk being cleaned off. A woman’s arms are in the middle of the desk, facing outward, as if they’re about to sweep everything off to the sides of the desk.A messy desk being cleaned off. A woman’s arms are in the middle of the desk, facing outward, as if they’re about to sweep everything off to the sides of the desk.

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Insights from Ellen Raim, Founder of People MatterWe focus more on solving than preventing People problems.

Get ready to kick off the new year with a fresh start! January 9th is National Clean Off Your Desk Day, which presents the perfect opportunity for your employees to declutter their workspaces and clear their minds. 

A clean and organized desk can work wonders in boosting productivity, reducing stress levels and creating a positive work environment. That’s because, a clean and clear workspace is not only aesthetically pleasing, it’s also proven to improve productivity, boost morale and innovation.

Whether the desks in your organization are in a private or shared office, a cubicle or in your employees’ homes, an uncluttered and organized workspace will help your people work more efficiently. So, you might want to encourage your people to prioritize keeping things clean and clear.

Cluttered desks can lower productivity.

Let’s face it, a cluttered desk can have a negative impact on productivity, not least because it’s a distracting environment to work in – especially when you can’t find anything!

Conversely, having a tidy desk can help keep employees calm and help ensure they can access documents when they need them, saving valuable time throughout the day to focus on their work.

How can you encourage clean desks?

A clean desk policy encourages employees to leave their desks cleaned up at the end of each working day. Clean desk policies can also be a good idea if your company operates a hot-desking system, so every desk is left clear of all belongings, ready for the next person to use it.

Clean desk policies can include clearing off the surface of a physical desk space, including putting documents away and cleaning away used mugs and trash. But, in today’s virtual world, clean desk policies can also mean making sure digital files are filed away in their correct places each day – so they’re shareable and recoverable. In that way, a clean desk policy helps people avoid messy virtual desktops filled with old files and opened tabs.

5 benefits of having a clean desk policy:

Are you considering a clean desk policy? Here are some of the benefits:

1. Clean desks create better first impressions.

If you regularly have clients visiting your office, creating a great first impression for them is important to build positive working relationships.

Cluttered, untidy desks aren’t a great look and could leave your clients with the impression that you could be disorganized as a company.

Encouraging or enforcing a clean desk policy is a great way to ensure any guests who come to your office always have a good first impression of the organization and its employees.

2. Clean desktop policies make files shareable.

When we’re multitasking, it seems so much easier to save files to your computer desktop than to a shared folder, which means our virtual desktops can become very cluttered very quickly.

In addition to feeling chaotic, cluttered desktops can limit team sharing. Even when documents are shareable, like Google docs, if other employees cannot find them, they will not be able to use them.

A structured filing system along with policies guidelines can help teams better organize and access each other's work making for a more collaborative and productive team.

3. Clean desks can help prevent a security breach.

If employees leave their desks cluttered with documents at the end of the day, they could be leaving potentially sensitive information on view for everyone to see.

Adopting a clean desk policy and encouraging employees to keep their desks tidy and put all paper away at the end of each day will reduce the risk of a security breach, improving the safety of your business.

4. Clean desks can reduce downtime due to illness.

With the amount of time employees spend at their desks, especially because many workers often eat in front of their computers, the average office desk can host more bacteria than a public toilet seat! But cleaning desks regularly can help employees remain positive and healthy in the workplace.

A desk that is free of clutter is easier to wipe down. Many health professionals recommend sanitizing desks and frequently used items, such as the keyboard and mouse, on a regular basis to avoid the spread of germs and illness.

5. Clean and clear desks support creativity and innovation.

Although some people fear a blank canvas, a clean desk is a different story. When it comes to creativity, having space to work is important. Whether in conference rooms, corporate offices or at home, clean desks are beneficial for promoting creativity and innovation.

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