Back home, I have a really small book in my guest room, called the “the little book of etiquette”. This is like a rule book for guests so they don’t have unfortunate “accidents” around the house. It may look a bit cheeky, however, truth be told, etiquette is something most of us don’t really bother about.
Etiquette has been defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life.” This column will every quarter, talk on etiquette tips for a better and safer work place for all.
Today we look at keeping a tidy space in the workplace. Having tidy spaces in the office is key for one’s well-being and for having happy co-workers. Companies typically have a ‘clean desk policy’ in operation with the sole objective of keeping the office tidy and limiting the loss of important and confidential information, however there is more to just having a clean desk; all areas in and around your office must be kept tidy.
Studies show that having airy tidy spaces allow one to think creatively and perform better in the workplace. Here are some typical to dos for a tidy space.
- Clean desk practise: The trick I discovered to having a clean space on your desk is to clear out your desk about three times in the day; once you start your day, about 3pm and then when you are about to close for the day. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind. Making good use of things that help declutter is key; you can buy those in and out file trays, pencil holders, storage drawers etc to help you keep things away but within sight. If you are one that has a lot of files to go through in a day, it will help to have a specific time for working on these files without distraction and as much as you can, finish the most important files. Create a process for going through the files and stick to it! Also, now that we are in the digital age and very conscious of the environment, you can keep all those complimentary cards stored on your phone. There are apps that can help with this; you can check out ‘CamCard’ for Android and ‘Business Card Scanner’ for iOS devices. There are many more apps and you may pick the one that best suits you. Another way is to file documents digitally, rather than have them lying around, you can create a file on your system for documents and then put the originals in storage. That helps declutter and makes the document readily available when needed.
- Sitting areas: Sitting areas are typically the first noticeable areas when untidy. If you own an executive office, first rule is to not have things lying about in sitting areas for guests. If you sit in open spaces, always be mindful of how you move your chair around, be aware that once you stand up to leave your desk, you must push in your chair, so it does not become an obstruction, this shows consideration for the safety of others. Keep your sitting area free of bags and things on the floor, ensure you find a place to keep your bag, create a space in one of your top drawers for keeping your handbags or laptop bags. If you have a briefcase, keep it by the inside of your desk on the floor and out of sight. If you are one of those who have to keep a pair of slippers nearby (especially for the ladies), keep your them out of sight, underneath the desk when not in use.
- Handling your waste: Your waste bin must be lined with bin bags or you can use plastic bags got from grocery stores. A waste bin should not be visible to visitors or colleagues but if it has to be, then it must be the covered type. It’s never pleasant to see the contents of a waste bin, you must endeavour to keep it out of sight. It is also advisable to put food waste in a separate bin out of the office area. You can also use a separate bin bag to throw food waste away especially if there is a smell.
- Have a pot plant: Plants give out oxygen and take in carbon dioxide, having a live plant in your office helps to keep your air pure and healthy. Find a nice spot on your desk or in a corner of your office and put a nice small potted plant. It will also help the look and feel of the space you are currently using.
- Finally, help your colleagues declutter: You can keep a tidy space, however if your colleagues are untidy, it can ruin your efforts. Try and help out with what you have learnt with your colleague. You can also have your own “little book of office etiquette”, put up rules where everyone can see it, so it helps to direct people on how to behave in the office.
In the words of Laurie Buchanan Ph.D – (author of The Business of Being – Sole Purpose in and out of the workplace), “Clearing clutter be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual- brings about ease and inspires a sense of peace, calm and tranquillity.”