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Your workplace may be dingier than you think

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by on
in The Savvy Office Manager

Have you ever taken a good look around your workplace? I mean a really critical look, as if you were a highly recruited job candidate deciding if yours is the place you would want to come to every day.

What do you see? OK, you’re blind to the eyesores because you pass by them every day, work among them. Heck, you likely caused some of them. They are no longer first impressions, but to you, the only impressions.

The truth is, a shoddy, unkempt, outdated workplace may not only hamper productivity, it’s probably driving away good job candidates as well.

Here is a list of common workplace dinginess that might need some TLC. After all, you want both your employees and visitors to get a positive experience from what you call home.

  • Cluttered receptionist’s desk. A messy lobby desk gives a visitor the impression that your place is complicated; that it’s in over its head in something. Keep this area free of paper and folder stacks. There’s a sense of efficiency in simplicity.

  • Dead or dying plants in the lobby. If you can’t take care of them, you don’t deserve them. A neglected plant screams neglected employees and neglected customers.

  • Mixed-matched chairs. You don’t need to be an interior decorator to purchase a half dozen waiting-room chairs that look the same. Piecing various styles together is not avant-garde in a professional setting. It’s cheapness. Also important, make sure they’re clean. Soiled cushions accented with pet hairs will leave most visitors standing.

  • Outdated, beat-up magazines scattered on an end table. A Sports Illustrated issue previewing the NFL playoffs four months after the Super Bowl is a hint that you don’t sweat the small stuff, or any stuff for that matter. It’s a small detail, but one that does not go unnoticed by a customer, client or job candidate. Is it really hard to keep this assortment current?

  • Boxes of nobody-is-sure-what’s-inside stored in corners and hallways. As long as you’re not tripping over them, what’s the harm? You need to find a better home for your storables. Think Dumpster.

  • Scuffed walls. There’s no escaping it: Walls get scuffed. It worsens with time, but visitors are sensitive to it in the early stages. If you don’t repaint on an annual or as-needed basis, your walls will look like a college dorm stairwell on move-out day.

  • Path-worn, soiled carpeting. Which way to the break room? Just follow the gray path in the tan carpeting. Tired carpeting is a turn-off. Clean it until it won’t hold a cleaning anymore, then replace it.

  • Dirty restrooms. Clean them. Every day. Enough said.

  • Grimy windows. Your glass should be transparent, not translucent. It doesn’t take long for pollen and pollutants on the outside and dust and finger marks on the inside to scum up a window. It’s a high-maintenance area that needs strict attention. If your goal is to keep employees from staring out of them rather than working, then leave them alone (the windows, not the employees).

  • Missing or damaged ceiling tiles. Like a missing tooth, all it takes is one.


Cal Butera is the editor of Business Management Daily’s Office Manager Today, Manager’s Legal Bulletin, Managing People at Work and Communication Briefings newsletters. He has been with Business Management Daily since 2007 and worked 22 years for midsize daily newspapers as sports writer, news reporter, layout and design editor, copy editor and city editor.

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