Judged by décor: What your workspace says about you

By Tracy Nesdoly

Cubicle style We know the clothes make the man, but what does your cubicle style transmit about you to the team?

Think it through before you put that Sarah Palin bobble-head on top of your computer. Make sure the message is the one you intend to give.

Meryl Rosenthal of the human resources organization Hirepower, which partners with Workopolis to offer Resume Rescue (help on crafting that important job-seeking tool) is a firm believer in making the effort to personalize your office space. She says family pictures, kids’ art, knick-knacks that are meaningful to you all offer a sense of who you are and your life outside the workplace. She has only one caution: make absolutely sure you are seen as being professional. Take a look around to determine the general culture of the place and stay within those boundaries.

We would advise, in addition, that the message delivers your meaning. Here’s our take on characters in the office:

    Den mother – This is the man or woman who always has a bowl of candy or box of cookies on their desk. This creature likes to be liked and has no qualms about using food as bait. Probably a good person to have on your team, so long as he or she always feels valued.

    Class clown – Bobble-heads, funny pictures, twisted sayings (SS, DD springs to mind) are his basic tools. Also loves to be loved but is more cynical about the workplace. His life is outside these walls and he’s not afraid to say so.

    Geek freak - There are loads of indicators of this one, including that “let’s use this computer after hours to detect aliens in outer space” rather than a screensaver, and lots of action figures that you probably don’t recognize.

    Keener – There is no personal stuff around, save maybe a photo of a spouse or family. And, the desk is spotless with no piles of files dating to … who knows.

    Super-keener – The stuff stuck on the cubicle walls are spreadsheets, forecasts, and maybe a mantra or two.

    Creative genius – The place is a mess but amazing ideas come forth. Sometimes. Such symbols of disorganization leads keeners to suspect a disordered mind. Never be late for meetings if you’re this character, or you’re cooked.

Agree? Disagree? Did we miss someone out? Let us know!

8 Responses to “Judged by décor: What your workspace says about you”

  1. Katrina says:

    My desk is a combination of Class Clown, Geek Freak, and Creative Genius. I have a Hello Kitty calendar, various off-beat action figures and toys, a cat calendar with kitty quotes, and printed cartoons deliberately chosen for their appropriate punchlines that reflect my own view of work/life; in addition, the desk is always a bit of a mess. Nevertheless, I’m the “go-to” person for my department. I’m content with that :)

  2. Elliot says:

    An accurate depiction. Reminds me of my corporate days and all the personalities in the office. My desk is an absolutely mess.. But I know exactly where everything is. i like it that way, Likely because I multitask in in everything i do, so I need things readily available.

  3. Ian says:

    so many Workopolis articles are negative (“Misguided Work Fashion Choice”, “Worst Work Style Offences”) and the descriptions in this article have a cynical tone. It’s a trend I’ve noticed in your recent articles. To me it suggests that Workopolis employees and contributors aren’t very satisified with their own jobs — why would I trust their viewpoint for my own career advancement?

    Really, Workopolis, can’t you find a positive way to tell a story. I’m sure we don’t need more negativity in our lives.

  4. Appleby says:

    I have apt quotations from classic literature, plus the media credntials from my racing venues, a small late-model German sports car in its box, and photos of my family…and of Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr in their Alex Job Racing days. Racing is my life; my job is how I pay for my life. Most people know that well.

  5. Marie says:

    Now I know why I never used to read the articles from this site; they piss me off. Youve basically been telling me to be obssessively concious about what I wear, what I put on my desk and what other people think of me. Can I just freakin be ME in a reasonable way and not get crap for it? PLEASE! I can already smell the anorexia and anger management problems invading my brains. tsk tsk tsk

  6. Maryanne says:

    I actually do not find some of these very accurate; for example, the”creative genius” with the messy desk: I`m sorry, but that says, to me, that this type of person is a slob who has no time to finish anything, so everything has to be left out to be picked up on at a later date. As for the “keener” and “super keener”, having few or no photos or personal items up does not immediately suggest that this person is going to kiss up to their bosses, rather that they may not like a cluttered work area and that they like to keep things neat, tidy, and well organized. I also feel that “keener” and “super keener” give off negative connotations. I would call this type of person more professional and organized.

  7. Ian says:

    I have to share a desk with the other shift. The more senior day shift does not allow any personalization to interfere with his clutter. He is the class clown trying to look like a creative genius. So my space is the screensaver on the computer. Mostly pictures of scenery taken on my last trip to Scotland. Oh and don’t forget the shortbread cookies. Hmm Den mother?

  8. Sherry says:

    I enjoyed this article. I am the super keener. My walls are covered with data sheets. There are no pictures or personal articles.

    I do have at least 3 pairs of very nice shoes in my office at all times.


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