Wherever You Work, Make it Feel Like Home

By Donna Farrugia, Executive Director of The Creative Group

When I’m not travelling for business, you can find me at my office in Westlake Village, Calif., during the workweek. It’s my home away from home. And like most in-house professionals, I spend 9+ hours at my desk (or at least within the building’s walls). So I like to do what I can, within reason, to make my workspace comfortable and welcoming – by displaying a few family photos, posters and design samples I pick up at conferences (like HOW Design Live), and my favorite industry reads, like Graphic Design USA magazine.

Donna's Office

A corner of my office with my white doodle board and a poster from an exhibit I attended in Upstate New York in 1983. Oh the memories!

I’m not the only one – check out some of the quirky desk decor spotted on the desks of our in-house creative team:

Desk Toys 2_collage

Source: The Creative Group

In a corporate setting, it can sometimes feel as if you’re crossing the imaginary professional/personal boundary when you add a personal touch to your work area. We recently asked advertising and marketing executives to share the strangest or most surprising item they have seen on an employee’s desk or in his or her workspace. Some of the responses were quite shocking:

  • “A live pig”
  • “A punching bag”
  • “A pair of men’s underwear”

Displaying inappropriate items can cause people to question your professionalism and judgment, ultimately hurting your career. Here are three tips to help you personalize your work area with taste:

  1. Don’t offend. Your workspace is on display for your teammates and bosses to see, so keep that in mind when selecting decor. Avoid off-color calendars, political posters, racy photos and other items that can raise eyebrows.
  2. Limit it. Showcasing a few knickknacks or souvenirs can provide the eye candy you need to stay inspired, but filling your work area with too many items can be distracting.
  3. Tidy up routinely. Even if you’re highly effective and efficient in your role, a cluttered or messy workspace can give others the impression that you’re disorganized. Make time each week to clear your desk of old documents, food wrappers and additional debris so you have room for new projects and paperwork.

 Donna Farrugia is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design and marketing professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at creativegroup.com.