November 10, 2016
If you’re an office manager or running a business, how do you encourage employees to do their part in order to maintain the office? Luckily, it’s quite simple as long as you introduce some easy-to-follow practices to help support staff in keeping tidy…
How can you politely reach out to the untidy employees? We all know who they are – desks cluttered with day old mugs, stacks of paper and other mess.
It’s hard to get the message across sometimes. Deborah Grayson Riegel, of training consultancy Elevated Training Inc, commented on getting your point across in an article from Forbes in September 2012. Reigel wrote, “Make your point. Make it clear, clean, and concise. It can include a point of view—brief doesn’t have to mean neutral. Keep your point to one sentence, or two at most”. When it comes to reminder notices clear concision is key.
Leaving a friendly reminder of office policy can sometimes be all that is needed to increase the likelihood that employees will keep a tidier workspace and instigating a weekly clear desk policy can be very effective. You can send an email to those who you feel need a little more encouragement. Remind them that a clear desk policy is not only necessary for hygiene reasons, but also to keep any sensitive information safe and secure too. You don’t need to shame anyone into maintaining a tidier desk, gentle reminders are a better form of encouragement.
It isn’t always possible to enforce a ban on employees eating at their desks. Sometimes a busy day just doesn’t allow for a leisurely lunch break. However, trying to discourage this when you can will lead to less mess in the workspace.
A good rule of thumb is to implement a ‘snacks only’ policy at the desk to avoid any mess. Try to give people the option, but discourage eating at desks in general. One of the best ways to do that is to make sure you provide a well-equipped kitchen and eating area for people to use. You can also encourage staff to go out for lunch. It is critical for office workers to get away from their desks during the day.
Gretchen Reynolds reported for the New York Times in January 2015 on a study from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports conducted by researchers at the University of Birmingham and other institutions.
The study measured the moods of workers who went for a lunchtime stroll and found that “walkers said they felt considerably more enthusiastic, less tense, and generally more relaxed and able to cope than on afternoons when they hadn’t walked”. If staff can stretch their legs and have a change of scenery during their lunch breaks they are more likely to return refreshed and ready to get down to some productive working in the afternoon.
Computer equipment like keyboards and mice less likely to harbour bacteria when clean, but they will also last longer too. This is green on two levels as it reduces your overall consumption of equipment in the long run, and helps to keep your employees’ workspaces looking clean and tidy at the same time.
The link between keyboards and germs is well-established. Microbiologist James Francis swabbed 30 tablets, keyboards and smartphones finding an amount of germs that led the press including ABC News to report that they were ‘dirtier than a toilet’ in some cases.
Sometimes computer equipment can look spotless, however, without regular cleaning, it will turn dirty and unhygienic very quickly. E-wipes, which are specially designed to clean computer equipment, can help encourage employees to keep their equipment clean with the minimum of effort.
Masses of exposed wiring makes a workspace look very untidy and can be dangerous too. There are straightforward and low-cost solutions available to keep wires and cables safe for employees, either in the form of cable ties or other cable organisers.
The government’s Health and Safety Executive provide guidance saying in their publication ‘Preventing trips and slips at work’. They say, “Think about people and organisational factors. Consider how work is organised and managed, e.g. to avoid rushing, overcrowding, trailing cables”. This demonstrates that there is a practical element to cable tidiness as well as an hygienic and aesthetic one.
If you have tidy cables not only do you reduce the risk of people tripping up and hurting themselves but you are also more likely to prolong the life of the cables and the associated equipment, as they are less prone to being pulled or tampered with.
The worst thing about clutter is not that it’s unsightly, it’s that it detracts from the overall mission of the business. Tidy desks mean fewer distractions and shows your team are well organised and entirely focussed on the job.
Of course, everybody has certain things they need to have on their desks to work well, and occasionally some clutter may arise – but it’s important to recognise where this starts to become a problem and introduce some of the practices mentioned above.
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