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Do or Don't? Personalizing Your Office or Cubicle

| Office Design, Office Life

Jan 8 2014

Offices and cubicles everywhere have a pretty general decorative theme; this theme includes picture frames of the family, friends and maybe a beloved pet, with a few knick-knacks thrown in for some lighthearted charm. It is a simple decorating scheme to be sure, but enough to make you feel a little more at home – a little bit more like it’s your space. Additionally, some individuals decorate their workspaces more fully, like the picture above, with a sort of “home away from home” mindset.

There can also be a motivational component along with these decorations. Maybe you have a picture of a place you are saving up to visit. Or maybe you actually have some type of motivational poster or quote on display that reminds you to stay focused and work hard. It’s a little thing, and everyone is different, but everyone seems to want to work in a space that inspires them… and that is why we decorate.

However, research is surfacing that shows, despite how we might feel about our personalized working spaces, our coworkers our bosses may view us differently because of it. This research, performed by University of Michigan Ross School of Business Professors Jeffery Sanchez-Burks and Susan Ashford, suggests that the more personalized an individual’s workspace may be, the less professional we consider that individual to be.

Perhaps the most interesting finding of the study is that this only seems to apply the United States. This suggests that there is something cultural encouraging this impression. It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact cause, but it left us wondering about our own workspaces and the workspaces of those around us. Do you agree with what the study has found?

Company culture can greatly impact the level and balance of office personalization. In fact, some offices have policies that limit or allow for only a small amount of desk personalization. Do you think this is an appropriate measure?

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