How does your desk make you feel?

Bit of a strange question, but it’s an important one to ask.

If you actually stop and picture yourself for a second walking into your office (could be your work-space, workbench, wherever you work), I’d like you to take a second to think about what it looks like.

What do you see? What can you hear? How does it smell? How does it make you feel?

You see these are all important questions to ask because it turns out that a whopping 30% of your life is spent working.

That’s pretty much one-third of your entire existence is going to be spent at work in some way or another… so wouldn’t that mean it’s pretty important to feel comfortable in your work-space?

If you’d like to live a pretty happy life – the answer is definitely yes!

So why is it that most people are unhappy these days about their workspace to the point where it starts effecting their desire to go to work?

It could be because we’re removing any resemblance of personal space in our organisations by removing something as simple as a desk.

We’re unknowingly destroying company culture with drive for reduced-costs and transparency of open-plan offices and hot-desking. The New Yorker refers to it as ‘the open-office trap’.

Without realising it – we’re actually making things worse for ourselves.

If you ask almost any employee they’ll tell you that open-plan offices and hot-desking are highly disruptive, stressful, cumbersome, and instead of feeling closer, they feel distant, dissatisfied, and resentful. Not a great motivator for productivity huh?

But why is that?

How come open-plan working situations and hot-desking doesn’t necessarily work well for everyone?

It’s pretty simple really – it’s the fact that we’re all a little different.

You might not realise it, but the way you organise (or not) your desk says something about who you are as a person.

It says something about your preferred style of communication.

You actually communicate a bit about who you are through the way you personalise your work-space (or any space for that matter).

If you’re not sure about that, let me give you an example…

Which of these desks would you say most resembles yours?


You see each of these desks belong to people with different communication styles. They are each dominant in one of the four Dot styles – Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue (find out more about the four styles here).

So people dominant in the Purple Dot communication style (Visionists) – their desks can be very messy (desk A). They care less about keeping a tidy desk and more about what they’re going to work on next. To the other 3 styles it may look like chaos and that no one could possibly work in that kind of mess, but to Purples it’s just how they get things done.

Those dominant in the Yellow Dot communication style (Pictorialists) – their desks are the complete opposite (desk B). Their workspace is very tidy, immaculate even! They are perfectionists and believe that an organised desk is the sign of an organised mind. They simply cannot handle the Purple’s clutter and would rather visit you at your desk than risk you messing up theirs.

The Red Dot communication style (Rationalists) – their desks have piles; not haemorrhoids, but piles of stuff! (desk C). The reason for these piles is so that they can remember where everything is. They know where to find anything they’re looking for, so be sure to never remove anything from their workspace without their permission or you’ll mess up their structure and they won’t thank you for it!

For those dominant in the Blue Dot communication style (Sensationists) – their desks are comfortable and highly personalised (desk D). For Blue’s it’s all about feeling comfortable. They like to have family photos and tangible accessories scattered around the desk such as stress balls and fluffy pens.

So what does your desk say about you?

And why is this important?

Because the way you use your work-space, the way you personalise your desk, it’s more than just a want – it’s a psychological need.

In order to be productive in your work, you need to be able to feel comfortable in your environment. And when that necessity is taken away from you, that’s when you start to feel unhappy, stressed and at the end of the day not wanting to come into work at all.

Perhaps without realising it, open-plan offices and hot-desking in particular are heavily impacting many organisations all around the world and things seem to be getting worse.

When running a Dots team-building training with an organisation not too long ago who had recently introduced ‘hot-desking’, I discovered that they are now enforcing all staff to pack up their desks at the end of each day (every day!) and put everything away neatly in a locker.

When I asked the group how they felt about this, I wasn’t surprised that there were many mixed responses.

The Purple Dots couldn’t think of anything worse. They felt exhausted at the thought of having to put everything away – to them that was taking up valuable time that could be spent on bigger and better things! Having a clean desk was definitely not a priority and more a pain in the backside.

The Red Dots had a similar view, but were more frustrated about not knowing where they would be sitting each day, not having any kind of ‘territory’ in the office and the possibility of having to sit next to someone noisy with no control over it was driving them insane!

The Blue Dots felt upset that they weren’t able to personalise their space anymore, but instead of complaining about it, they kept the peace and compromised by personalising their new lockers instead. They also missed being able to claim the most comfortable chair that was adjusted to fit them perfectly.

Whereas the Yellow Dots seemed to be the only ones who were all for it. You see Yellow’s love a tidy workspace, a tidy office, even a tidy life! So the idea that everyone had to tidy things away at the end of every single day was just perfect in their eyes.

So it was at this point that I had to ask myself the question – why are we doing this?

And are we aware of the impact this could have on the future of our working lives?

I would love to hear your thoughts, your stories, your experiences on this matter and what you do to make yourself more comfortable in your working environment?

If you would like to know more about your own communication style and how it colours your life, come along to our next event or get in touch – I’d love to hear from you!

Once you have tried our DOTS ™ training you will immediately know why someone has a messy desk, someone else’s will be so tidy it is almost sanitised, others will have neatly stacked piles of paper and yet others desks will be comfortable with family photos etc, and what this means for your communication with them.

This knowledge will help you really understand their strengths and what drives them, which enables you to communicate more effectively with everyone around you.

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