Findings of a study conducted by Horgan, Herzog, and Dryszlewski indicate that designers should not only keep their own workplaces looking neat, but that they should also support any potential efforts by the users of the offices they develop to maintain a neat looking desk via drawers/cabinets/etc., where desktop items can be “stashed.” Horgan and team investigated “How perceivers' impressions of a researcher's personality might vary as a function of the messiness of the researcher's office. . . . Participants from the US were randomly assigned to sit in a researcher's office (A) that was either clean, neat, organized, and uncluttered or one (office B) that was somewhat messy (experiment 1) or very messy (experiments 2 & 3). They guessed the Big 5 traits of the researcher afterward. In each experiment, participants thought that the office B researcher was less conscientious than the office A researcher. In experiments 2 and 3, participants also thought that the office B researcher was less agreeable and more neurotic than the office A researcher.” In the neat office papers, books, and journals were neatly arranged on the desktop and shelves, for example, and in the messier office that was not the case; also, in the messier office, some materials were placed on the floor, for instance.
Terrence Horgan, Noelle Herzog, and Sarah Dryszlewski. 2019. “Does Your Messy Office Make Your Mind Look Cluttered? Office Appearance and Perceivers’ Judgments About the Owner’s Personality.” Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 138, pp. 370-379, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2018.10.018