How to Motivate Employees to Keep a Clear Desk

Aug 20, 2020

What would someone say if they walked past your desk? Would they comment on the condition of it and assume you’re lazy, unmotivated, or disorganized? The state of your desk and the desks of your employees says a lot about your company. Workers who keep a messy desk might be the hardest working person in the office, but their messy workspace will give off a very different first impression. Corporate America loves the saying “perception is reality.” In this case, the perception is that your company is a mess. You could demand everyone keep a tidy desk, but that negative motivation only serves to aggravate and annoy. Instead, use these tips on how to motivate employees to keep a clear desk.

Schedule Deep Cleaning Days

Set time aside once a month to have a deep cleaning day. This goes beyond the normal nightly cleaning done by a maintenance crew. On this day, each employee will have two hours to clean their desk and purge any unnecessary items. Anything that they haven’t touched in the previous month will get tossed. Once employees have cleared away all the clutter and can actually see their desktop again, provide wipes and cleaning materials so they can physically clean their space too.

Incentivize Cleanliness

During cleaning day, there will be employees who don’t need more than ten minutes to clean their desks. Let them use that extra time to do what they want. Allow them to take a long lunch, leave early, watch TV at their desk, or have ice cream. Let it be known that you are rewarding them for keeping their desk clean, clear, and organized. Those who keep their desk a bit less tidy will notice and want to earn the reward as well.

Have a Demonstration

Have an organized employee give a demonstration of how they keep their desk clear. Keep it lighthearted and fun, but make sure they get the message across. Let them educate their coworkers on how to keep a clear desk and how it benefits their workflow.

Do an Extreme Makeover

Identify an employee in dire need of a clean desk and give them an extreme makeover. Let them be part of the makeover, but make sure to clean the desk nonetheless. You don’t want to throw out any important work, so let them supervise the makeover. Have two or three organized employees take over the desk and clean out the mess.

Create a Policy

When all else fails, create a clean desk policy. Make this the last resort, though. You don’t want to play the heavy and mandate clean desks, but if the key people aren’t getting the message, do what you must.

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