When I’ve read books and articles on introducing organisation into a workplace they often recommend clearing your desk at the end of the day. As a hot desker I question whether this is as good a policy as it is made out to be. Sure it is nice to sit down at a clear desk each day, but I don’t think it is that simple.
How does hot desking work for me? When I get into the office I have the choice of about 60 desks. I collect my mug, notebook and organisation file from my cupboard and take them to the desk. During the day I gain and spread other project related files, printed papers, post etc over the desk. At the end of the day I have a tendency to sweep it all together and put it in my cupboard with the intention of dealing with it tomorrow. Of course, most of the time I don’t and the pile of papers grows and I forget things and start losing work.
There have been times when I’ve thought it would be easier if I could leave all my piles of paper on the desk as I had arranged them. However I know from previous experience (before hot desking) that the piles grow and can merge or spill resulting in the same confusion and loss of work.
I think there are three daily steps to maintaining a desk focussed to work
- review papers and recycle any not required, such as short term reference items e.g. meeting agendas
- pass on all papers for other people
- file all reference material
This should then leave only action papers on the desk ready for the next day. I have to admit I find this difficult, but I am starting to identify the differences types of paper more easily so can act on them more quickly. An additional consequence is I am also taking less time trying to find things because I have filed all reference material and have just an inch thick pile of action papers stored in my organisation file so I have easy access to them every day.
I therefore suggest that people should be working towards an ‘action’ desk rather than a clear desk