As things like hotdesking has grown in popularity, the idea that we have a space to call our own at work is becoming rarer. Indeed, some workplaces take the rather extreme step of forcibly clearing away desks at the end of each day.
Whilst I don’t want to touch on the impact having a desk to call your own has on our work, I do want to look at the role mess plays in our productivity. The research community is somewhat mixed on the matter.
For instance, some suggest that an overly tidy workspace is but a sign of a limited mind, and the most successful are inherently the messiest. Of course, there is messiness and there is messiness.
A Bit Too Messy
A recent study from Florida State University found that exposing employees to too much grime can significantly hamper the health of our brain, with the impact roughly equivalent to working in an unstimulating environment.
The researchers were looking at the role our workplace plays on our cognitive health. They found that not only does complex work enhance our health, but also that a messy workplace can cause a hit on our cognitive performance.
“Both of these issues are important when we think about the long-term health of men and women,” the authors say.
Whilst the findings about undertaking complex tasks is widely known to support our mental health, and indeed conforms to the heuristic of using it or losing it, the role our workplace can play in our ability to complete tasks, pay attention or manage our time is an interesting one.
So whilst being a clean freak at work is not good for us, we should perhaps try and curb our messy ways a little bit to ensure we don’t go too far.