Stand at the door of your office. Are you looking at a clean and orderly workspace or a disorganized mess? How does the space make you feel? Are you happy and excited to get to work or does a quick glance at your office make you want to hightail it in the opposite direction?
Neatness and order in the workplace matter—and not just because “neat is nice.” Studies have proven that when your workspace is cluttered, it’s difficult to process information, let alone focus on priorities, projects and tasks.
In addition to reduced productivity, a messy office also negatively affects your psychological, emotional and professional well-being. The good news is that cleaning up your workspace is a high-impact, low-cost activity with immediate and noticeable benefits for business owners and workers alike.
1) Reducing clutter reduces workplace stressPaper clutter is the number one cleaning challenge in the workplace. In a disorganized office, it’s easy to misplace documents. That can be very stressful, especially when your boss or client is waiting for you to produce said documents.
Also stressful is not knowing what to do with memos, reports, client files and other documents. Many people save everything for fear of making the wrong decision, so companies end up investing money to store multiple copies of the same documents. The solution is to create document guidelines for determining what to keep and what to toss. For example: If you wrote the memo, you’re responsible for keeping the electronic file. Any items that you decide to toss, of course, should comply with all applicable laws related to document preservation and destruction.
Even if you don’t see the piles of paper on your desk as a problem because you know where everything is, think about it: It’s a system that’s simply not sustainable over time. Eventually, this arrangement will collapse under the sheer volume of paper and increasing amount of time it will take to find needed information. And what if someone needs to find something in your absence?
2) Cleaning makes us feel betterSorting and straightening are the first two steps in the popular 5S methodology that can be applied to any business. The 5S method is a systematic, team approach to creating a clean and orderly workplace that exposes waste and makes abnormalities immediately visible.
A key part of cleaning up is de-cluttering. Getting rid of what you aren’t using frees up time, space and energy for more important things like sharing the unique gifts and talents you bring to your workplace. And another reason why cleaning matters? Because you can get more done in less time in a tidier office.
Imagine rejoicing in a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day instead of looking at your to-do list. That’s the difference a clean office can make—the difference between working late or heading home on time to be with your family, exercise or simply relax.
3) Cleanliness inspires confidenceYour office is a reflection of you and your company. And first impressions count. What do your clients, vendors, colleagues, prospective employees and other visitors see? A dirty break room, cluttered desk or messy reception area does not inspire confidence in your professionalism or ability to manage the finer details.
What if you set aside the last 30 minutes of the last Friday of every month for a company-wide office cleaning session that includes clearing desktops and filing or shredding documents? Anything that is no longer needed could be placed on a swap table for other employees to take. Or you could sell these items on Craigslist and put the earnings in an office lunch fund.
Approaching cleaning as a team event provides an opportunity for bonding and may even contribute to improved relationships among co-workers. Don’t be surprised to find an increase in employee morale as your office is transformed into a cleaner, safer, healthier, happier place to work. Because yes, cleaning matters.
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