Can a messy desk lead to increased creativity?

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Messy Desk

Office space or working environment can affect productivity. But can having a messy desk actually make you more creative?

Author Eric Abrahamson who co-wrote ‘A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder’ found that people with an organised desk often struggle to find things because their filing systems are too organised! He went on to point out that there can be advantages to having a messy desk; you could end up finding things you didn’t expect to whilst looking for something else.

This theory appears to be backed up by Professor Kathleen Vohs, who undertook some research at the University of Minnesota. The study found that being surrounded by clutter and mess can actually promote creative thinking and new ideas.

The research also found that working at a clean desk can encourage healthy eating and generosity. They used a series of experiments during the study including asking participants to come up with new uses for ping pong balls. They found that people tested in a messy room, at a desk covered in papers came up with more imaginative and ‘creative’ answers than the people in the tidy room.  Professor Vohs said, “Just making that environment tidy or unkempt made a massive difference in people’s behaviour.”

Professor Vohs said, “Just making that environment tidy or unkempt made a massive difference in people’s behaviour.”

Now while we aren’t too sure to what extent this might be true in an everyday working situation, it is certainly true that your environment affects your work and well-being.

Psychologists found that work spaces that don’t feature any personal mementos or pictures are some of the most ‘toxic’ working environments. Employees who are allowed to personalise their space are ‘happier’ at work.

A study carried out in London gave employees the opportunity to arrange a small office with as many plants and personal pictures as they wanted. The results found that the people who could make the space more personal were up to 32% more productive. While it may not always be possible to let people customise their own working space, something as simple as a magnetic notice board allows room to express some personality, and make the space your own.

We like to think that with our furniture and organisation systems you can have the best of both. Space to personalise your space for example our magnetic desk dividers and organise your work materials but also the space to occasionally indulge in a ‘messy desk’ and let the creativity flow!

Posted November 4, 2014

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