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Messy Desks can Increase Productivity

General Comments February 7th 2012

Many companies around the UK and quite possibly the world have a clear desk policy when employees are out of the office. Not only this, but they are encouraged to keep their desks tidy when in work. Researchers in Germany however think differently, that actually a messy desk can lead people to think more clearly when working. In a series of studies that can be linked to one another, using a messy office desk or having an untidy shop front actually made the person think more clearly as they began to simplify tasks that had to be done.

It appears that visual clutter and mess (by this I don’t mean dirt all over the office chair or on the filing cabinets) makes humans focus. Typical examples of this are the great thinkers such as Roald Dahl and Albert Einstein that are famously known for having untidy workstations.

'Business and government managers often promote 'clean desk' policies to avoid disorganized offices and messy desks, for the purpose of boosting work efficiency and productivity,' commented Jia Liu from the University of Groningen

'This practice is based on the conventional wisdom that a disorganized and messy environment can clutter one's mind and complicate one's judgments. However, not all evidence supports this conventional link between a messy environment and a messy mind.'

The experiment that supports this was carried out in a few different areas, a disorganised desk, a messy shop front and even in a classroom where the subjects were subjected to a language exercise that reminded them about messiness. The results showed that the durning this exercise the subjects thought more clearly.

'They categorized products in a simpler manner, were willing to pay more for a t-shirt that depicts a simple-looking picture, and sought less variety in their choices,'

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