This article was originally published in December of 2014; we’ve since updated it to reflect more current information.
A clean work space is important, for your health and your professional image.
When you’re talking about business, appearance means more than many of us realize. But appearance doesn’t stop at the business suit you choose or the tie you select; it extends into your workplace habits and beyond.
We’ve all struggled with maintaining the appearance of our work spaces, especially when schedules are tight and deadlines are looming. However, neglecting the tidiness and overall attractiveness of our work space can have negative consequences–ones you might not have considered before.
Why Is A Clean Work Space Important?
We’ve all had that one co-worker whose work space was simply unattractive. This can be papers, office supplies, dirty coffee cups and food wrappers covering every inch of their desk. This can be books piled in chairs, Post-its covering every surface or a general sense of clutter.
When you enter this co-worker’s office or workspace, you don’t think about the multi-million-dollar contract they won last week. Instead, you may see their uncleanliness as an inability to be successful on the job. Maintaining a clean work space is important to your personal and professional image, to your company and its image, and even to your health.
1. Professional and Personal Image
There are several ways that a cluttered, unorganized work space negatively impacts your professional image. For starters, disorganization reflects poorly on you in front of your co-workers and clients. If you can’t be trusted to keep your desk tidy, how attentive are you to the details of their account?
Professional people should take pride in their jobs–and this translates to how they organize their work space.
Remember: a tidy work space and office makes it easier to be productive, find the things you need, and finish tasks. When clients visit, they’ll see your organization (or lack thereof) as a direct reflection on you, your seriousness in business, and your professionalism.
2. Company Image
The cleanliness of your office also reflects on your company as a whole. If you haven’t yet landed a client, it’s important to make a good impression on them as they visit your work space for the first time. Clutter, dirty dishes, overflowing trash cans, and disorganized desks send a clear message: you’re overwhelmed or otherwise lacking in professionalism.
And don’t kid yourself: clients know how hard it is to work efficiently in a dirty, cluttered, and disorganized environment. A messy office might make them question your ability to prioritize correctly. They want a company that can handle their account and concerns swiftly and efficiently.
One of the most important reasons to maintain a tidy office? Health concerns.
Work place illness is one of the leading causes of inefficiency and falling behind in your tasks. And lack of cleanliness might be the culprit behind every runny nose you’ve gotten and sick day you’ve taken.
According to RTKEnvironmental, dirty air ducts, refrigerators and office equipment are some of the leading causes of worker illness.
A buildup of dust, lint and pollen can create breathing hazards for everyone in the office, triggering asthma attacks, stuffy noses and other uncomfortable health issues.
Workers who consistently eat at their desks without cleaning up, throwing away wrappers or putting their dishes away can attract a host of disease-carrying vermin, including cockroaches and mice.
Put some systems in place for cleaning your own work space. Once a day, collect all of your dirty dishes, food wrappers and coffee cups. Take minute to wipe down your desk. Clean old food out of the refrigerator. Tell management when the carpeting is getting dirty or when the air ducts need to be cleaned. All of these things can go a long way towards helping you maintain the best and most efficient work space possible.