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Article: Productivity-What is Your Desk Personality? Related Resources

Productivity-What is Your Desk Personality?
by Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro

After years of coaching and presenting seminars to corporations on time management and organizational skills, I now learn that people with messier offices actually make more money. According to a new survey by Adecco Group, the largest human resource service company in the world, only 11% of those earning $75,000 or more claim they are 'neat freaks.'

According to Bernadette Kenny, senior vice president of human resources at Adecco North American, this could be for a variety of reasons. "Perhaps this is because they are in higher positions and are inundated with more work. Or, perhaps those with smaller salaries are in more junior-level positions, where they need to comply with someone else's standards and strive to make a good impression on managers."

Or maybe it just takes too much time to get organized. "We don't factor in the time it takes to be organized," says Eric Abrahamson, co-author of A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder. and a professor of management at Columbia Business School. "Are those benefits commensurate with the time spent to get that way? That's the downside of order. The value of time can be very high, and we don't want to waste valuable time getting organized."

What does your workplace say about you? Researchers claim that desks may reveal the true personality, habits and ambitions of their owners. Hundreds of workspaces belonging to office workers were studied by Donna Dawson, a behavioral psychologist with Adecco. She examined the layout and patterns of possessions on desks and found six main types of personality.

The Super-Organized Desk. This functional workplace is very neat with no frills or personal clutter. Likely to be a super-efficient secretary or assistant, only the essentials are prominent; a pen, notebook and stapler. They want to feel needed and can be very charming when they feel others are relying on them. This desk personality can be subject to mood swings and may disguise a chip on its owner's shoulder from lack of appreciation.

The Organized Chaos Desk. This personality has piles of paper, overflowing onto the floor and window seat. The owner will claim to have a "filing-system" where they can easily find what they are looking for. There may be multiple sticky notes wallpapering the room with reminders and to-do items. To cope with the pressures and stress, this person frequently gets up to warm up their coffee or have a cigarette break. While likely to be a workaholic, they are fun to chat with and are flexible and brilliant for brainstorming.

The Creative Chaos Desk. This desk is filled with an interesting array of clutter revealing a creative and agile mind. Not focused on technology, this owner is a great source of ideas. They are always on the go and only vaguely know where everything is that they are working on. They may misplace projects or papers. Easily distracted, this person tends to be a lateral thinker.

The Personality Extension Desk. Covered with dozens of personal touches, this desk displays poster, photos, holiday cards and zany mouse-mats. The owner may even keep personal items such as vitamin pills, hand cream or perfume easily accessible. This personality is very energetic, and keeps food, drink and other items readily available for quick nourishment. They are friendly and talkative but may not be discreet with confidential information.

The Show Desk. This desk has been carefully scripted to present an image of the importance of its occupant. It is very large with few items visible and no personal memorabilia. Giving the impression of space and control, this individual is like to have a double sided personality. Although friendly in a social group, they become coldly professional once behind the desk. Few people at work will ever know the real person behind the fašade.

The Trophy Desk. This workspace is messy and covered with items that reflect its owner's social, professional or financial success. These "trophies" may include awards, plaques, pictures of expensive holidays, or sporting equipment. While the look may appear random, each item is strategically placed for maximum effect and visibility. Desktop accessories will be bold and brightly colored. These people tend to think big and are natural leaders, but need to be appreciated or they may sulk or have a tantrum.

No matter what your desk style is, it is important to be aware that it sends a message to others that could be a factor in your success. Remember people will judge you by what you show them.

For more information on personality, please visit:

FREE E-mail newsletter, sign on at Barbara Bartlein, is The People Pro, and President of Great Lakes Consulting Group, LLC, which helps companies sell more goods and services by developing people. She can be reached at 888-747-9953, by e-mail at: or visit her website at

Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro may be contacted at or


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