One of the snappiest dressers on television was Morley Safer. But if you were to peek into Morley’s office when he was off-camera, you would have seen an office that was quite the opposite.
Depending on your point-of-view, a cluttered desk might have been thought of as a cluttered mind or as the title of this article suggests, a clean desk means an empty mind.
Let me offer you a third perspective.
My desk is usually cluttered when I’m deep into a project. (But never quite as bad as Morley’s.)
What I learned about myself was that I tend to be spatially organized and when things get neatly put away, out of sight, in a file drawer, they are also out of mind. Mine!
We’re all different.
When people try to design workspaces for others, it will most likely fail.
In his book, “Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives,” Tim Harford explains how engineered spaces can kill productivity and innovation, while having a messy workspace might actually help us to do some of our best work.
I remember entering Arbitron’s new facility when it opened in Columbia, Maryland. Everything was fresh and new and oh, so very sterile.
One of the managers could be seen chasing people around and chastising them for taping things to the walls or for having a cluttered desk.
This type of order is fine for an automobile assembly line, but not your radio station.
When I moved WLAN AM/FM from its original location in downtown Lancaster, PA to a brand-new facility, I told everyone that their workspace was theirs to decorate as they wished.
I even let everyone pick out their own style and color of desk and chair.
Everyone was excited for moving day to arrive and had been planning for months how they would set-up their new offices.
Studies have shown that when people are allowed to decorate their work place with the stuff and personal knickknacks they love, productivity can increase by as much as 32%. In fact, people are not only more productive, they are also happier and healthier.
Moves can be really disruptive to a business, but when I moved my Lancaster radio stations, we had a record setting year in both ratings and revenues.
Mix It Up
Another way to stimulate innovation and productivity in your station, is to create spaces where everyone bumps into each other on a regular basis.
When Steve Jobs was designing Apple’s new building, he purposely made sure there would be spaces that would cause employees from all sectors to come in contact with one another.
Diversity of thought and ideas come from everywhere and everyone.
So, break down the silos that walls create to have some space that brings your people together like a tossed salad.
The Take Away
The key thing to know about creating a productive work environment is this, you can’t dictate it. You have to empower your people to create it for themselves.
People who have power over their workspace tend to be more engaged, productive and collaborative.
Just remember, it can get a little messy at times, but that’s how greatness is birthed.