How Your Employees Can Contribute to Workplace Cleanliness and Happiness

“Messy bed, messy head,” so the saying goes. A similar truth also applies for work. A messy desk and office atmosphere contribute to lack of focus and from that, lower productivity.

Your employees can take the lead on tidying up the office to improve office hygiene and appearance for better morale and productivity.

How We Know “Messy Desk, Messy Head” Is True

The idea that a messy desk space diminishes an employee’s productivity has been demonstrated by research from Harvard University. In the “cluttered desk” study, researchers separated participants (undergrad students) into two groups—one group was exposed to a neat, tidy area where the desk was free of clutter and things were stacked neatly along the walls or on shelves; the other to an area with a cluttered desk, exposed wires and materials shoved into a disorganized pile.

Both groups were then taken to a different room and presented with a task—an impossible puzzle. The group exposed to the neat office was able to sustain attention on the task about 1½ times longer than the group exposed to the messy office before giving up.

Of course, the length of time spent attempting the task in the experiment was not going to get participants any closer to success. But think about what longer time-on-task translates to in the workplace when challenges are solvable—higher productivity.

Productivity Is Just One Benefit of a Neat Office

The benefits of a clean office space go beyond just time-on-task. Desk neatness can also improve each employee’s sense of well-being at work because less clutter also translates to:

  • Less stress—a neat environment helps create a sense of control over one’s environment and workload
  • Less illness—a neat environment helps reduce the pathogen load on surfaces to cut down on the amount and spread of germs that cause employees to miss work
  • Higher morale—people generally feel happier in a clean environment compared to a cluttered or dirty one, so employees in neat offices are likely to feel happier about their jobs and their work

These physical and psychological benefits are great for employees, and they all translate to higher profitability for companies, too.

How to Encourage Employees’ Office Neatness

Employees’ workstations are their own, so it is up to each individual team member to keep a neat desk space. Of course, everyone’s definition of “neat” is different, so general guidelines should include:

  • A desk free of papers that are not needed to complete the task being worked on
  • Papers and files neatly organized in trays, bins or put away in file drawers
  • Keyboards and phones that have been dusted and sanitized
  • Computer screens wiped free of dust and any smudges that impede the viewing surface
  • Cords bound together and tucked behind equipment or through “portholes” as much as possible
  • No open food or beverage containers for items not being presently consumed

Some employees may naturally keep a neat desk space. Others may take some prodding. Companies can institute policies and procedures that encourage employees to improve the cleanliness of their workstations without making employees feel like they’re being micromanaged, such as:

  • Reserving the last 15 minutes of the day for desk clean-up so that employees return to a tidy workstation next morning
  • Encouraging employees to use their breaks and breakroom to eat snacks and meals away from their desk
  • Making cleaning supplies, like disinfectant wipes and microfiber cloths, easily accessible

Team leads and managers can also encourage neater workstations by complementing exemplary workstations. Think about creating a weekly company-wide email featuring the week’s best desk pic to share.

How MSSI Can Contribute

There is only so much your employees can do to maintain a clean office beyond de-cluttering and sanitizing their workstations. For everything else, you can count on Maintenance Service Systems, Inc. We provide the office cleaning services you need to make sure your business environment is clean, hygienic and safe.