Chances are, you spend a lot of time at your desk. In fact, a 2012 study from researchers at Loughborough University shares that in a typical working week, many office workers spend, on average, five hours and 41 minutes per day sitting behind their desks!
With so many hours logged behind one piece of furniture, it can be easy to let organization slide. That can be especially true when work gets busy. What starts out as a few unfiled printouts can quickly multiply into sticky note madness, balled up pieces of paper somewhere in the vicinity of your trash bin, and pens and pencils hiding under your keyboard.
A messy desk can be frustrating when you’re trying to find something. But it may have bigger consequences for your career. In fact, a messy desk can affect everything from your job performance to how others (including your boss) see you. In one UK survey, 40 percent of workers said a messy desk impacted their performance. What’s more, 73 percent of managers said they see employees with messy desks as disorganized.
One space-saving, flexible way to get your office space looking spiffy is to invest in a desk hutch. With its vertical storage, a desk hutch takes the mess off your desk (and even your floor!) and gives you space to organize. We’ll familiarize you with your options and give you tips for how to buy the right desk hutch for your space below.
Why desk organization matters
When your desk is disorganized, a lot suffers. For starters, your productivity goes down. You’ve seen this in action if you’ve scoured your desk (as well as the floor and your colleague’s desk) to try to find that crucial billing statement or lost memo. About two in five workers admit that a messy desk makes them less productive.
Even more than the practical problem of not being able to find what you’re looking for, a cluttered work environment decreases productivity overall. This is because our brains like order. When it has to process a whole bunch of background disorder, it is harder for our brain to focus. Studies show that when work clutter is cleared, we can focus and process information better, leading to better productivity.
In addition to making you less productive, a messy desk can also make your colleagues less productive. That same UK survey from Brother found that one in four coworkers felt their colleagues’ messy desks impacted their own productivity. Colleagues also tend to think more poorly of their colleagues with messy desks, finding them to be less conscientious, more neurotic, and less agreeable.
This poor perception doesn’t stop with your colleagues. Your boss likely takes notice, too. One in 10 bosses said a messy desk would stop them from promoting an employee. And 30 percent of employees believed an organized desk was key to helping them get their next promotion.
In addition to potentially affecting your productivity and corporate trajectory, a messy environment can actually increase cortisol, a stress hormone. Over time, this can lead to anxiety and depression.
Clutter has another surprising effect—it can lead to weight gain. One study found that people in a cluttered environment were more likely to overconsume junk food (about twice as much) than those in a neat environment.
Finally, a messy desk can lead to financial loss. About 20 percent of people in the Brother study admitted that their untidy workspace resulted in their losing something of financial value—about $200 on average!
Six benefits of a desk hutch for organization
Now you know the science about how a messy desk can negatively impact your work and even your health. Well, the good news is the converse is also true. Workers who have a tidy desk tend to feel in control, more productive, and even happier.
How do you achieve a tidy desk? One way is to establish an organizational system that gets the clutter off your desk and into organized compartments. A desk hutch is a great way to do this for a number of reasons.
It’s hard to stay organized when you have no place to house the items on your desk. A desk hutch increases the space available to you to get your items in order.
Saves floor space
There are other storage options available, such as filing cabinets and bookshelves. But unlike these other options, a desk hutch need not take up additional floor space because it sits on top of or above your desk. This makes a desk hutch ideal for small offices, shared offices, and minimalist office spaces.
Makes use of vertical space
Vertical space may go completely unused in an office. Especially in a small office environment, it’s important to make use of all the space available. Desk hutches use up that vertical space, allowing for easy, off-the-ground storage and display.
Offers flexible storage options
Desk hutches come in many different designs, allowing you to find one that works best for your storage needs. Do you struggle with managing the loads of paper that seem to continually make it to your desk? You can opt for a desk hutch with paper slots. Do you feel overwhelmed with electronics? Choose a shelf-like design to your hutch that can store your printer, scanner, and other items. Do you need a place to display your knickknacks and photos? Opt for a desk hutch with compartments of various sizes to fit your favorites. If you’re worried you still can’t control the mess, you can even opt for a hutch with drawers or cabinets so that the clutter can be hidden, and therefore won’t distract your coworkers.
Makes it easier to organize books and supplies
The flexibility of the storage options with a desk hutch makes it easier to store a wide variety of desktop items. Unlike a traditional bookshelf, for instance, you can easily find a compartment not just for your books, but also for your stapler, three-hole punch, and other small items.
May help with cord management
Some desk hutches feature a shelf design with cord cutouts in the back. This allows your electronics to be displayed while keeping those annoying cords tucked safely out of sight.
Considerations when buying a desk hutch
Desk hutches can transform your workspace. But it’s important to choose the desk hutch that works best for your space. Let’s look at a few factors to consider before you buy a hutch for your office.
The measurements of the desk and hutch. Measure your space carefully before purchasing a desk hutch. You will need to measure your desk to make sure the hutch fits over or around it, as well as the area where you want the hutch to go. Don’t forget to make sure your ceiling is high enough to fit your chosen hutch. Also make sure that any doors can still open freely without banging into the hutch. You may also consider whether the hutch would block any window access.
The design of the storage slots. There are many desk hutch options that can fulfill pretty much any of your organizational needs. Before purchasing, think about where you need the most help with organization. If you mostly have papers that need storage, you may want to choose a hutch that has smaller paper slots. If you have a lot of books that need a better home, you can choose a hutch with larger compartments. Spend some time looking at the different types of hutches and find one that will best fit your particular organizational needs.
Open versus closed shelving. There are benefits to both open and closed shelving. Open shelving allows you to easily see and grab what is stored there. It also may keep you motivated to keep your items orderly. Closed shelving allows for a more streamlined look and helps hide those hard-to-organize items from view. You can also choose a hutch that offers both open and closed shelving. This may keep you honest with the majority of your organization but give you a few closed spaces to hide those things that you just can’t seem to find a space for.
Lighting needs. Some hutches come with underside lighting to illuminate your workspace. Make sure you have an outlet nearby to accommodate the cord, or an extension cord to extend the reach. If you do not want underside lighting, consider what sort of desk or floor lamp would work with your newly configured space. Again, think about cord management. Can you hide the cords behind your desk and hutch? Is there an outlet within easy distance of your cords? If not, be sure to buy an extension cord that will work with your lighting choices.
A messy desk does not need to be your office reality. A desk hutch can transform your workspace—and your quality of life. Before investing in hutch, be sure to think about what would work best for your unique organizational needs. Once you have that figured out, you can have a tidy, streamlined workstation in no time.