Does Your Office Bring You Joy?


If you were to be honest with yourself:

• Does your office stress you out as soon as you step in?
• Do you feel like you’re working in a small box without much room to breathe?
• Do you find yourself multi-tasking because post-its, pop-up emails and clutter beg for your attention?


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If you do a Google search on the impact of office clutter and productivity, you’ll find a slew of articles that make you realize that there is a definite link between the two. Studies have shown that the average person wastes 4.3 hours a week on looking for things in their office which lowers productivity and increases stress levels.

Aside from the impact of clutter on employee productivity and stress levels, many office environments reduce motivation and most employees would admit that don’t even love their office space. I find that to be sad considering that we spend more time at work than we do sleeping!


Create Joy in Your Life

Marie Kondo has certainly become a household icon after millions have watched the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.  She has spread the gospel on the KonMari method which many have applied to their homes.  The “tipping point” effect is that many people are now also applying the KonMari method to their offices and proudly showing off their “before” and “after” photos on social media.

So instead of people feeling guilty about their clutter, it’s created an uplifting trend (or even contagion) that has embraced the concept of purging and doing more with less. The side consequence of everyone purging is that thrift stores are overwhelmed with donations and some are turning them away. But that’s not really a bad thing, is it?

Staging a KonMari event for your department or for the whole organization could be a good teambuilding activity. It may motivate the few “hoarders” to finally do a deep cleanse of their offices (including the file cabinets, bookshelves, walls and floors).  Perhaps you could include “Joy Awards” where employees could nominate their favorite makeovers!  (P.S. You might want to create guidelines for purging documents with sensitive info and hire a large rollaway for discards.)

More to Learn from Japanese Practices

Personally, I’m excited by the positive trend that Marie Kondo is bringing to the U.S. and Canada (and even beyond).  I started my organizational development consulting firm 20 years ago and specialized in helping teams increase their productivity.  As a certified Motorola University instructor, I taught the Kaizen method (a popular Japanese management concept) that streamlines operations, reduces waste and increases efficiencies.  Kaizen, along with Six Sigma, teaches us how to get things done in less time with reduced costs.

Ironically, Kaizen teaches the 5S of Good Housekeeping, which suggests that five “S” activities be implemented organization-wide:

  • SEIRI (sort) — Separate out all the things that are unnecessary and eliminate them.
  • SEITON (straighten) — Arrange the essential things in order so they can be easily accessed.
  • SEISO (scrub) — Keep machines and working environments clean.
  • SEIKETSU (systematize) — Make cleaning and checking a routine practice.
  • SHITSUKE (standardize) — Standardize procedures and processes to implement best practices and prevent recurrence of problems.

“Joy” wasn’t the intention back in those days.  Kondo’s approach appeals to all of us because it satisfies a personal gain for doing the work needed to eliminate chaos and to create efficient spaces—both at home and at work.  And when we love our spaces, we’re more productive, motivated and happier employees!


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It’s Time to Increase Efficiency, Productivity and Joy in Your Office


If you’re ready to make serious changes in your office that make you love your space again and help you get more done in less time, then put these tips to use and get going. Sooner done, the sooner the rewards!

1. Purge and re-organize — Schedule a time to purge your whole office, clean, sort, tackle what you’ve dreaded doing, and rethink how you use your space.  The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Your Workspace has good tips.

2. Take baby steps and do it as a team — the adage “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” is good advice.  Even better, To Hygge or KonMari? How to Encourage Employees to Clean Up Their Desks has some great team ideas.

3. Ask questions to help you make decisions on what to keep in your space which go beyond joy.  It has to make sense too.


You spend a lot of your waking hours at work. So why not design a work environment that feels good, is good for your health and sanity, and helps makes you and your team more successful?


As a certified Wiley Workplace Solutions Partner, Cathi Hight works with organizations to develop high performing teams, effective leaders and productive work environments. She is president of Hight Performance Group and the developer of the Work Smarter, Not Harder program.  Learn more at


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