Breathe deeply. We’re going to clean your office

It may seem trivial, but keeping your office space organized and free of clutter can help boost productivity, as well as maximize a small work space. Choosing a PC and printer set-up that’s appropriate for your needs, and keeping your desk organized, will help your business look more professional and run more efficiently.

A functional design takes into account how people are working and determines how they enjoy the environment they work in – and that has a direct link to how efficient they perform and how long they stay.

And it can save a lot of hassle. Tripping over a cable and spilling coffee all over your keyboard could knock out your business out for a few days.

Space-saving equipment
As a small or home-based business owner, consider how you need your office to operate. A larger enterprise will often bring in a space planner, environmental specialists and office equipment companies – myriad people who provide advice and design information.

“But the simple concept behind that is to start with a plan,” said Ron Hulse, vice-president of sales and marketing for the IT division with Samsung Electronics. “You’ve got to know what people are doing day in and day out.” If employees spend a lot of time on the phone talking with clients where noise may be a factor, does that noise interfere with customer relationships? Those physical factors are just as important as equipment decisions, he said.

When choosing IT equipment, consider options with a small footprint. Printers nowadays, for example, are smaller, which contributes to a lower operating cost, a lower draw on electricity, and minimal operating temperatures and noises. “Consider an all-in-one multifunction device,” he said. “It’s a little bit more for an all-in-one, but it’s much better to have one unit versus three.”


Reducing Clutter
If you’re working in a small space, consider a monitor that mounts on the wall or the back of your desk to free up space under your monitor. Also consider wireless keyboards and mice, said Paul Holstein, senior vice-president of CableOrganizer. This, along with Bluetooth, helps eliminate cable clutter from your work space.

Products such as velcro wraps and cable managers can keep all those cables and cords off the floor, and labelers can keep them organized. Labelers, such as the Brother P-Touch PT-80 and DYMO RhinoPro 5000 can help you identify cables, files or anything else that needs classification.

A split wire loom – a polyethylene corrugated tube with a split down the side where you enter cables – can help you deal with the wire octopus behind your computer and allows you to easily add more cables down the road. The Cable-Safe Complete Cable Manager is an inexpensive way to loop, tie and hang cabling, wiring, power adapters, power strips, hubs, modems and other devices off the floor. Fake baseboards and crown molding are also available to keep cables out of sight.

Using adhesive clips (with an adhesive that won’t peel off your paint) can keep clutter off your desk, such as a headset for your phone, said Holstein. You can also mount your cell charger on the wall, instead of leaving it on the floor where it’s a tripping hazard.

But you can never cut out the cords altogether, he added. “In my home office, I have a printer in a wall unit across the room, and I don’t want to run a cable from one side to the other, so I use a wireless router and Ethernet wireless adapter.”

Setting up your space
It’s important to carefully choose the space you’re going to work in so you can be productive and professional, said Barb Friedman, a professional organizer and founder of

Try to choose a desk that gives you options, with a height that could accommodate a filing cabinet underneath if necessary. Consider where electrical outlets are located, and how that works with your space. You should also have a backup supply area for extra printing paper, ink cartridges, or anything you use a lot of. “Try to categorize and contain everything you can,” she said.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to be a system, she said. You don’t have to buy fancy mesh containers to store pens and paper clips – a paper cup will do just fine. People will often spend money on stylish containers from a specialty storage retailer, then never use them. Maintaining the system is just as important as setting it up, she said, otherwise it won’t be of any use.

Feng Shui
A tidy office means a tidy mind – so consider feng shui, the Chinese art of positioning objects in a building to affect the flow of chi, or the energy inherent in all things.

In an office, you should have a peripheral view of the doorway, said Sharon Hay, director of the Toronto School of Feng Shui. “If you feel that movement behind you, you’re not as productive.” If there are no other options, put a mirror on your desk so you can see what’s going on behind you.

Your desk should also be facing into the room instead of a wall, and shouldn’t be facing a window, since that can be distracting. If you’re the president of a company, your desk should be at the back of the office, facing the business.

It’s also good to have a small amount of red in your office to stimulate, motivate and activate energy – for business, money and morale – though you should avoid too much red because you’ll feel burnt out. This can be in the form of a picture or object on your desk. Avoid too much blue, since it’s a tranquil colour.

It’s also a good idea to have a plant in your office, since it’s a continual affirmation of growth. Real is best, silk is second best – but avoid dried flowers. The flow of water represents the flow of money, so place a small water fountain in the boardroom.

Clutter in your environment ultimately clutters your thoughts.

“If you start clearing things out, then more opportunity is going to be able to come in – the client who hasn’t called, they’ll call, the rebate cheque they’ve been waiting for all of a sudden comes in the mail,” said Hay. “All these things become completed.

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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