Spring Cleaning: Tips to Declutter Your Office to Improve Employee Productivity

Decluttering office space can be a challenge for any business. Accumulation is simply inevitable – documents pile up, new and old office supplies take up space, unused furniture or electronics find themselves stacked in corners or closets. And with each passing year, the cycle continues. 

If any of this sounds reminiscent of your office space, now is the perfect time to make a plan for some spring cleaning. Decluttering an office space has several benefits and in this blog, we’ll cover why you should declutter and some helpful tips to get started.


Why You Should Declutter

Cleaner Surfaces
Offices can harbor a lot of germs and bacteria. According to researchers from the University of Arizona, the average desktop has 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet. A keyboard could carry up to 7,500 bacteria at any given time. Cluttered and messy spaces don’t allow for proper cleaning, which is imperative to the physical well-being of employees. Especially those who may work at shared stations. 

Increased Productivity
The less time an employee needs to spend trying to find specific objects or documents, the more time they can focus on getting work done. Extensive clutter and disorganization can be very distracting, and hinder focus and productivity. Research has found that a person’s short-term memory can only hold a limited number of thoughts at a time. The average is about 7 items, plus or minus 2, depending on the individual. Clutter takes up valuable real estate in the brain. This is also a great opportunity to digitize as much as possible to support remote work and make your spaces more shareable.

Positive Brand Image
The way your office looks reflects back on your company and brand. If you walked into a business and found it disorganized and dirty, what would you think? Likely, you would project that the physical state of the business is an indication of how business is handled. Keeping workspaces clean and decluttered reflects and demonstrates a positive brand image and respect for the space, and the people who share it.

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Tips for Decluttering Your Office

1. Assign a Point Person
In order to make decluttering your office a successful endeavor, it’s important to have leadership participate in the process and make it a team effort. It could be helpful to assign a point person to create procedures for employees. This person could also designate a specific time to start the project and map out when it should be completed. Company-wide buy-in is important for these kinds of initiatives. Setting clear guidelines and timelines can help you keep everyone engaged and on task. 


2. Determine What’s Essential

It’s not uncommon to have items in a work area that haven’t been touched for months, or even years (that’s probably why you’ve come across this blog). But just because an item has been in the same place for a long time, doesn’t mean it needs to stay there. Get rid of everything that isn’t objectively essential. This may seem like an extreme suggestion, however, it is a quick and effective way to determine what items are impeding productivity. 

3. Organize Based on Practicality 

To improve workflow, place most frequently used items in easily accessible places. Arrange important yet least-used items in places that are further away from the main hub of activity. This simple system reduces the amount of time employees need to search for important items and documents, consequently increasing productivity by ensuring that essential items are within reach.


4. Control the Cables

Nothing slows productivity down more than getting tangled in electrical cords and wires. Whether the cables are on top of or underneath desks and workstations, it can be a never-ending battle trying to manage all the wired devices needed during work. Going completely wireless isn’t a commonplace reality just yet, but by minimizing wires and cords in the office, you can clear space for actual work to happen. And if there is an issue, it’s much easy to identify and correct the problem when things are organized. 

5. Take Advantage of Storage

If you’ve already determined what is and is not essential to your office, it may be wise to go back and reevaluate the relevancy of the remaining items. Your office may still be holding on to several reference books, miscellaneous materials, projects that are on hold and won’t be picked up any time soon, and even unopened documents and packages. Properly dispose of items that are no longer needed and store other items you are unsure of. Whether it’s on-site or off-site storage, whatever is not used in a regular cadence should be stored until needed. Be sure to create an inventory of everything stored, so you don’t repurchase the same items. 


6. Maintain the Organization
Businesses should declutter and organize annually. It’s an effective way to review supplies and office processes, as well as ensure clutter doesn’t get out of control. Decluttering and organizing should also happen before a relocation, to ensure you’re not moving items you don’t need. Depending on your company’s operations, you may need to declutter more frequently. Set regular times to declutter and organize common spaces like conference rooms, kitchens, and shared workstations to ensure that it gets done. This creates accountability and a sense of camaraderie, which leads to company cultures that value organization and efficiency. 


The Takeaway

Keeping an office neat and orderly can have a direct impact on the health of your employees, their productivity, and the perception of your brand. Decluttering your office may seem like an overwhelming and intimidating task. But with a practical strategy, patience, and buy-in from others, you can Marie Kondo your office to amp up productivity.

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