Colorful office supplies
Should I Personalize My Office?

February 14, 2018

Ask Bindertek:

I’ve accepted a position in a formal, more structured environment. For the past 4 years, I was working at a small, quirky company that was very casual and we all decorated our cubicles extensively. I want to personalize my new desk but am not sure what’s appropriate for my new job.

It feels like the little things at a new job are what we get hung up on! Since many people will make snap judgements about you based on your desk, you’re on the right track by thinking proactively about your personalization strategy. On the flip side, if your cubicle is barren you might be perceived as temporary and unwilling to commit to the company. Striking a balance between personalization and function is key for any office.

While it’s tempting to bring your favorite supplies with you on your first day, we suggest waiting until you’ve completed the first week. The time serves several purposes. Firstly, you can scope out what your coworkers and superiors do and take your cues from them. Second, we hope you will be happily busy as you settle into your new role, as the first week can be quite a whirlwind! You’ll be better served to focus on getting your bearings than analyzing decorating decisions. And though it’s unfair, some might assume you care more about cubicle décor than the work if you show up with a box of belongings on Day 1. Lastly, there is always the risk that you realize the job is a terrible fit for you and there’s no need to personalize your desk, as you’ve either quit or are looking for a quick way out. (Grim, but it happens!)

Your safest bet lies with functional yet attractive office supplies. Functional supplies pull their weight and minimize clutter, making you appear highly organized as a bonus. No matter your personal style or your office design, you can find desk accessories and organizers that appeal—from modern and minimalist, to bright colors and patterns, or classic wood pieces. Quick functional upgrades include:

  • A cheerful mug to hold pens
  • Wall-mounted file organizers to reduce desktop clutter
  • An ergonomic wrist rest or computer mouse
  • Drawer organizers to keep smaller supplies sorted
  • A corkboard, whiteboard, or glass board for schedules and deadlines
  • A letter tray or file folder ‘inbox’ for papers

After a few months, you’ll have a decent idea of your pain points and unique organizational struggles. We advise starting small with a few pieces and adding more later once you’ve determined where you need the extra assistance. Modular sets are great for this as they can grow with you.

If you work in a windowless area, adding in plants connects you to nature and helps you feel relaxed—studies have proven it! Many office-friendly plants don’t require tons of maintenance and offer air-purifying qualities as a bonus, though confirm that your coworkers aren’t allergic before bringing in a new leafy friend. Photos of loved ones are another way to improve your outlook at work. We suggest hanging photos on nearby walls to avoid losing valuable desktop real estate to picture frames. (Tip: Use Velcro to attach frames to cubicle walls!)

Evidence suggests personalization can boost your mood at work, and you can even use Feng Shui to guide your desk organization. Of course, you can always keep it simple and still reap the benefits. A few attractive organizers or a small plant can be enough to bring your space to life and make your cubicle your own.