decluttering in five steps

Working more efficiently, improving productivity and a happier working life – what’s not to like about decluttering?

While famous minds such as Einstein have been renowned for their messy desks, a chaotic workstation doesn’t always play out so well in offices where team members have to work together and locate items quickly during a busy working day.

We may think that getting on with the job in hand and ignoring that mounting pile of paper doesn’t matter much, but when your environment is cluttered, your ability to focus can be reduced.

A study by the Princeton Institute of Neuroscience concluded that clutter can limit the brain’s ability to process information and make you distracted and unable to process information as well as you would in a more organised environment.

The average person is said to waste 4.3 hours per week searching for paper, with the average executive losing an hour of productivity every single day searching for missing information. Another big risk for organisations is reduced efficiency and poorer customer service as a result of mishandled paperwork.

Here are five steps to decluttering:

1. Keep, recycle or action

With paper clutter one of the biggest issues facing workers, getting to grips with that paper pile is all-important. Many of us have a tendency to hang onto items that don’t easily fit into the category of ‘keep’ or ‘throw’, but we need to change that.

While filing away legal and financial documents for statutory periods is essential, consider if you really need to keep everything else. If the document relates to a live project or is needed for reference that’s one thing. If it covers things that are now done and gone, perhaps the office recycling bin, or cross-cut shredder if it’s confidential, is the best place for it.

Rather than shelve every bit of paper, if it’s a straightforward matter, try to action the contents straight away rather than leaving it lying around.

2. Think bench desks

Organisations can get up to 40% more use out of their existing office space by embracing the flexibility of bench desking. Configured to suit individual team needs, the smaller footprint of bench desks and their simple design means that they can be used in any environment.

Bench desks have a more modern, open look than many traditional corner desks and with the option of colourful divider screens to personalise work areas, they can refresh and project a much tidier environment in all sorts of workspaces.

3. Get cable-tidying

Eliminate dreaded cable chaos by using smart products such as cable tidy units, floor cable covers and round desk trunking. By decluttering cables, workspaces can instantly look tidier and satisfy the obligations of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Bench desks don’t require lots of cables or wires to be left on show as they can easily accommodate central power towers that route cables from the floor, as well as high capacity cable trays to hide wires.

Cable tidies will ensure that power and data cables are contained, help to achieve a clean look and from a hygiene perspective, make it much easier to vacuum under desks.

4. Lock up personal belongings

Rather than let employees keep their personal belongings on their desks, or on the floor where they could be a trip hazard, lockers are a great weapon in the fight against personal clutter.

Lockers prompt workers to safely store any personal belongings that aren’t needed at their desks all day and with a variety of options to choose from, including Standard, Quatro and Cube, lockers offer a colourful, streamlined way to prevent mess. Personal lockers can also remove the need for pedestals which in themselves can contribute to the cluttered look of an office.

5. Share the recycling and refuse

Shared recycling and refuse bins can reduce the need for personal bins, freeing up more space and reducing clutter around individual desks. Big Bins and Green Bins from the VOW catalogue provide solutions, as do confidential waste systems, which have tamper proof locks to keep documents safe prior to shredding and document slots at the front for easy access.

At the end of the day, why allow clutter in any office? It only adds to stress and mental overload and negatively impacts on productivity. As we’re all asked to do more and achieve more, decluttered workspaces must be part of the answer. With the added prospect of greater employee happiness, productivity, and increased efficiency, it’s well worth the while.

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