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What Your Workspace Says About You

What Your Workspace Says About You

Larry Buhl | for Monster

Conscious Decorating

Experts have several suggestions on making sure your workspace matches the image you want to project.

• Err on The Conservative Side: Especially if clients visit you or if you’re in a high-traffic area, you want to make sure people don’t stop in their tracks to gawk at your collection of teddy bears or tiki torches.

• Be Careful with Controversial Items: “Consider the cost-reward ratio of putting up something like a political campaign poster,” Luccioni says. “You might find kindred spirits, or you might offend people and get a first meeting off to a bad start.” All experts say anything potentially racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise disparaging of a group is a no-no.

• Check Your Employee Handbook, or Ask HR: Your company probably has some guidelines on decorating your work space. It might not even permit any decoration, which makes the issue moot.

• Follow Industry Norms: Some industries demand a strict image of seriousness, while others are more laid-back. A poster with a funny or counterculture slogan would be more appropriate in the office of an advertising copywriter than the office a defense attorney.

• Consider the Physical Arrangement: “A desk can act as a barrier and give formality, which is good for reviews but can be intimidating,” Luccioni says. She adds that a small circular table allows everyone to meet on an equal basis. A power difference, if you want that, can be achieved by giving guests smaller, flimsier chairs.

And if you tend to make snap judgments about others’ offices, try to look at the bigger picture, Gosling recommends.

“Any one item can have many different purposes,” he says. “If someone has a plant, maybe they have a green thumb, maybe they’re into feng shui or maybe the plant was left over from the last person in that office. If you see someone with a super-neat desk, how do you know whether they’re truly neat, or whether they swept everything into a drawer before you stopped by?”

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