I LOVED seeing the office spaces of MSLO employees in the January Martha Stewart Living (pp.100-107). Martha’s office looks too bare to me. And the color coordinated books in Kevin Sharkey’s office would make me nuts – I need them organized by topic. It really felt as though you could get a good feeling for each person’s personality by looking at their workspace.
Isn’t it interesting that they did this big spread on their creative offices, then the big controversy hit the news, about Martha’s employees no longer being permitted to personalize their spaces. The bit about no garbage cans in individual offices is going to mean, in my opinion, that people are going to pile trash up on their desk or in a drawer and dump it in the community receptacle rarely.
I once worked in an office where they wanted a “clean” look, which meant nothing hanging on the walls and no personal photos, and as clean a desk as possible. I thought I would lose my mind and needless to say, I did not work there very long. In a lot of ways, the rules about that office environment clearly reflected the management personalities and firm culture and none of it was pleasant. I hope that that is not the case at MSLO. I can say for certain that even the limitation on what pens you can use would make me wacky. I’m very picky about pens and really, really prefer those with purple ink!
I now work in a home office, which as you can see, is certainly not minimalist! We actually redid the room in a reality show way – two people, one weekend, $500 – and painted, carpeted, put together new furniture, installed cabinets and countertops and made the closet a functioning part of the room. I was so proud of what we accomplished that weekend. I painted my office plum, since purple colors are supposed to inspire creativity.
The stuff that fills the room has gradually crept in. In the past, I’ve shown you my fortune cookie collection, which is part of my office. I also have a collection of bookmarks and book art.
The personal items mean so much to me in my office – photos of my kids and drawings by them. I can’t imagine trying to be creative in an office space that did not permit them. I also have a collection of sand from beaches we have visited. My office has to contain things that inspire and motivate me. I need to be reminded of why I am working – for my family and to be able to travel. I need to be able to see out the window. We use window air conditioners in our house and I’m now at the point where I don’t even put it in my office window because I can’t bear to have my view blocked.
I understand the idea behind the MSLO changes – I can just see that people’s clutter would drive Martha completely bonkers. I also can see how the execs would rationalize that reducing clutter would help people focus more clearly on their work. However, I think it’s incredibly stupid to expect people to be creative in a sterile environment.