The Starter Guide To Workplace Psychology - Desk Layout

You need to build a framework for success that begins the moment they sit down.

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Every employee runs into the same problem no matter where they work in an office. The difficulty in sitting down and starting the tasks assigned to them. 

As the person responsible for catering to their workplace needs, it’s important for you to know how shaping an office environment can affect their task efficiency and mental health.

When they’re about to begin a new project they will seek out the best atmosphere for generating new ideas, planning their strategy, and then executing it to achieve their goal.

So what can you do to improve their productivity? Let’s start with their desk.


1. The freedom to personalize your workspace improves productivity.

office personalize productivity

This is a given in most offices, but what is the science behind workplace customization for employees?

A study conducted on workplace efficiency strategies gave employees the option to either personalize their office area with plants and art, let someone else decorate, or leave it bare.

They found that compared with no plants or art, those who were empowered to alter their workspace were 32% more productive. Researchers reported that this was due to the office feeling more comfortable to the employees and having some autonomy in a place where they were handed tasks to complete.

The key takeaway here is that your job isn’t to change the way your office thinks. It’s to help support their particular mode of thinking in order for them to best express their ideas.

So now that we know that employees work best when in control of their own spaces, let’s see what we can learn about them from how they organize their desk, or don’t.

2. Organized employees prefer practical assistance to accessories.

organized desk office

Many people really do strive to keep a clear desk at the office, but for some it’s as natural as breathing.

Papers are neatly arrayed, wires are never crossed, and if something new lands on their desktop you can bet it will be sorted appropriately and without hesitation. 

Sometimes described as minimalist, they carry out tasks with high attention to detail and rarely veer off course when a set plan is in place.

Organized and conscientious in their daily habits, they thrive when they can have a high degree of control over their environment, but don’t mind following existing “best practices.”

You can support them by providing them with practical items like tissues, coasters, and wire sorters that help them keep track of their organizational habits, instead of accessories that will take up what they see as useful space.

3. A ‘clutterer’ isn’t necessarily disorganized, and will be more likely to take on new tasks.

clutter desk creative

The opposite to the organized-type, they place a greater importance on achieving a goal than the way it is done. 

If that means sacrificing room on their desk for all their materials, so be it.

You’ll see multiple notepads stacked up with criss-crossing cables overtop of them, next to a computer with dozens of tabs open for the various trains of thought they have running.

It looks like chaos, because often times it is. But that doesn’t mean it gets in the way of brilliant work, in fact it’s how they thrive. Less concerned with where everything is placed, those who clutter prefer to have everything close at hand and are perfectly fine with leaving tasks midway in order to work on their latest idea.

You can support a clutterer by giving them versatile tools like a box for finished projects, special notepads for sudden inspiration, or a white board to contain their bombastic creative process. 

Feel free to help them contain their “mess” but don’t clean up what may be a delicate balance.

4. Plants are one of the first things you should invest in for your office to improve performance.

plants office healthy

Those leafy greens will do more for your office than simply spruce the place up. 

They are proven to reduce stress by producing more oxygen for the building and serve as a constant reminder of growth.

Not only do they improve office morale overall, but taking care of a plant on your desk is a good way to boost cognitive function and maintain good physical health. 

Several studies done by Harvard saw subjects increase their scores of information reception by 300%, focus on simple and complex tasks by 50%, and take fewer sick days taken overall.

Simply put, the more plant life you can keep on your desk the better your team will perform and the happier they will be just showing up to work!

5. Snacks provided for employees are a fast and delicious way to bolster workplace satisfaction.

healthy office snacks

This one is going to be your team's favourite! 

Many of the top offices in the world have recognized the importance of implementing a snacking program in their office to increase both job satisfaction and task efficiency.

If you think about it, employees that have to dash out to a convenience store once or twice a day isn’t actually all that convenient.

Employers who provide delicious treats that their team actually enjoys eating proves to them that they are valued members of the organization. 

Everyone wants to be heard and sometimes, it is the little things that matter most.Nutritious options like granola bars, dried fruit and sparkling water show that you have their health in mind, making the office feel more like a home.

It can be difficult to start a snack program from scratch, especially if you’re stuck driving to a store once a week. Save yourself some time and check out our flexible office snacking plans for offices of all sizes and budget!

6. Toys seem like distractions but are often the perfect way to refocus attention during repetitive tasks.

desk toys accessories

You’ve probably spent your career fighting the impulse to add too many desktop distractions to your workspace.


Turns out, you were missing out on one of your greatest tools to boost efficiency.

Employees that habitually click their pens, pick up crossword puzzles, or work on rubik's cubes may seem like they are wasting their time, but are actually champions of “embodied cognition.”

Stimulating their natural impulse to fidget bolsters creativity, relieves stress, and increases attention to detail. Physical activity clears the mind and activates spatial thinking, which not only refreshes pent up energy, but improves information retention.

On top of the productivity benefits, toys and gadgets will encourage other members of the office to interact with each other and be more sociable.

Surprise your team with unique accessories for their workspaces that help improve their productivity, make them excited to come to the office and get along better with their colleagues.


It’s important to remember the influence that our immediate environment has on our daily motivation, how it shapes our thoughts and inspires us to act on them.

As an office manager, it is your responsibility to ensure that this environment promotes productive work habits, regardless of how individual employees go about completing their tasks.

By respecting everyone’s personal work strategies and understanding what desk layouts will optimize performance, you can make informed choices as to the accessories that will best enhance their experience.

Since you're here, why not check out our variety of customizable snack plans to stock your office with healthy snacks? 

The perfect addition for every desk!

About the Author

Jonathan Marshall

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