What does your desk say about you?

Let’s face it: It’s easy to fall into a comfort zone once you’ve been with your organisation for a while.

However, believe it or not, you are constantly being either consciously or subconsciously evaluated for your suitability to move up the rungs of the career ladder.

When it comes to this context, the little things count. Even the state your work desk is in.

Your workstation serves as a canvas for you to express your personality. Think of it as your personal branding campaign, your interactive marketing brochure. While you may not think much about it, there is a lot your desk can silently say about you behind your back.


A messy desk is not always a bad thing. Often, those in the creative line have messy desks, as it promotes out-of-the-box thinking. However, going overboard can give you an unfavourable impression. You want somewhat of an organised mess, not an out of control dumpster.


An organised desk reflects an organised mind. This gives an impression that you’re up to par with your work, and you’ll most likely be the reliable go-to guy (or girl) for your boss. That said, being too organised all the time is not really a great thing either. It is human to get a little messy once in a way, plus, it shows that you don’t have too much free time on your hands.

Family / Vacation Photos

A photo or two adds a nice personal touch to your workstation and your personality. Having your cubicle wall lined with collages on the other hand, screams “I’d rather be anywhere but here”. Leave room for a post-it note or five.

Certificates and awards

If you walk into your colleagues’ workspace and find that the first thing you see is their framed credentials, this translates to their efforts of commanding respect and credibility. You’ll find that it is not uncommon for senior level executives and bosses to do so. If you’re a junior, however, depending on your office culture, displaying your diploma and certifications can come off as being pompous.

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This depends on what kind of role you are working in. Generally, plushies, magnets, stickers and other knick-knacks that fall in the ‘cute’ category are more acceptable in creative professions such as designing, photography, and writing. If you’re in the finance or legal departments however, you might want to rethink these.

Inspirational quotes

If you have any more than one of these on your desk, you’re neurotic. At least, that’s what others may think. Pick your favourite and stick to that one. And no, ‘Keep calm’ quotes do not count as inspirational.

Presence of other life

Keeping a live (and healthy) potted plant on your desk is a good idea. It adds a vibe of positivity and accountability to your personality, plus it is refreshing to catch sight of greenery inside a concrete office. However, you’ll need to make sure your plant is well-maintained. Withering, wilting shrubs send a different message all together.

A clean desk

There’s messy, there’s organised, and then there’s straight-out clean. Nothing says you’re uncommitted as much as an empty desk, void of any signs of life. Unless you’re planning to jump companies in the next few days, make sure there’s at least a couple of items that are a little more personal on your desk.

Now that you know what your desk says about you, why not use it to your benefit? Make sure your personal brand is being radiated from your workstation. Just remember, keep everything in moderation. All the best!


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