Looking for the office star? Look for the messy desk

How tidy your workers keep their desks may reveal more about them than you would think

Looking for the office star? Look for the messy desk

As Albert Einstein once said: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

An American scientific study has found that working at a messy desk promotes creative thinking and helps a person stimulate new ideas.

The University of Minnesota carried out a series of tests on people working at clean and messy desks, while tracking their behaviour, according to the Telegraph.

“For example, participants in the study were given a choice between a new product and an established one.

“Those in the messy room were more likely to prefer the novel one – a signal that being in a disorderly environment prompts a release from conventionality.”

The study also revealed “working at a clean and prim desk may promote healthy eating, generosity and conventionality,” the Telegraph reported.

When participants were put in a clear, tidy room they were more likely to choose an apple over a chocolate bar, and donate to charity.

In another experiment, participants were asked to come up with new uses for ping pong balls.

Despite the fact both groups generated the same number of ideas. The clutterers’ ideas were rated as more interesting and creative.

 Professor Vohs said: "Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries and societies want more of – creativity.

"We found...that you can get really valuable outcomes from being in a messy setting.

"Just making that environment tidy or unkempt made a massive difference in people's behavior.”

So, are your messy employees more creative?

Free newsletter

Our daily newsletter is FREE and keeps you up-to-date with the world of HR. Please complete the form below and click on subscribe for daily newsletters from HRD New Zealand.

Recent articles & video

How to handle a toxic, yet talented, employee

Why do many senior managers distrust big data?

The enigma of employee satisfaction

Google activists point to 'hostile' work environment after walkout

Most Read Articles

How to offer a stellar employee recognition program

How to handle a toxic, yet talented, employee

Religion, rugby and contracts