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Why Employees Decorate Their Workspace

Updated on October 22, 2012
ChrisMcDade8 profile image

Christine McDade is a Human Resources professional (PHR & SHRM-CP) with over 18 years in the public sector.

For many employees in the workplace, their desk or cubicle becomes their home away from home due to the long hours they spend at work. Time away from family and friends can be troublesome to many who must choose the extra shift of overtime due to workload demands and the need for extra cash on payday. To make things worse, many employers have chosen not to fill positions that are vacated due to resignations, retirement or discharges. Saving that salary to meet the budget woes looks better to the CEO who may look at significant cuts down the road. Most employees are grateful to have a job and are making the most of their time until a better opportunity arises.

For this consideration of ownership and commitment to stay on the job, employees choose to make their workplace an extension of their home and place of comfort. Many employees will bring personal belongings to their workplace as pleasant as possible. Bringing some of those comforts of home to work often makes life much more bearable to a weary employee.

Photos of pets are often good images to help an employee de-sttress.
Photos of pets are often good images to help an employee de-sttress. | Source
A photo of a favorite vacation is a nice momentary distraction at the workplace.
A photo of a favorite vacation is a nice momentary distraction at the workplace. | Source

What Comforts of Home Do Employees Bring to Work?

Employees bring many personal items from home to personalize their workspace. Most managers do not object to such things unless they create a sort of distraction or a disruption to others. The following items are common in the workplace:

  • Family Photos - Photographs of family and friends often adorn the workspace of employees. Whether it is a photo of a new baby or a recent high school graduate, many employees bring in their cherished photos to decorate their work areas. Being able to gaze on the face of a loved one also acts as a reminder for them as to why they work as hard as they do.
  • Pets- Some employees have the ability to bring their pets to work. If an employee has the ability to do so, having a pet at work is a de-stressor of sorts. However, the majority of employers do not allow animals at work, unless they are service animals. Rather, many employees often settle on their favorite photo of that trusted pal.
  • Pictures or Paintings - When possible, employees often bring a favorite painting or motivational image to hang on the wall.
  • Music - radios and/or small stereos are common items that employees enjoy having in their areas of work. As long as the music is respectful and not disruptive to others who might hear it, music can be a very soothing addition to an employee's work effort. CD's are often played in the pc's disk drive which makes the necessity of a stereo obsolete. Some employees are allowed to you headphones or earbuds to listen to music on their iPod or MP3 player while at their desks.
  • Fans and Heaters - Since everyone has their own definition of what comfort is in terms of temperature, portable fans and heaters are often utilized in workspaces.
  • Candy Dish - Many employees enjoy a little chocolate or candy from time to time during their day. It is not unusual to see a candy dish on someone's desk in the workplace.
  • Sports Memorabilia. Employees love to bring sports memorabilia to work. Some good hearted rivalries can occur between cubicles when opposing teams have fans working side by side in an organization.
  • Plants - There is no better way to brighten up an office, desk, cubicle, etc., than to add some life in the way of a live plant to a setting. Many employees enjoy having plants on their desks and take great care to make sure they thrive.
  • Holiday Decorations - Employees enjoy the spirit of celebration that accompanies the different holidays throughout the year. Some will choose to decorate their desks with whatever holiday is approaching on the calendar. In October, for example, employees often bring in small pumpkins to set on their desk.
  • Motivational Items - Motivational sayings and expressions are always available in calendars, books, pictures, etc., which often find their way to a desk in the workplace.

Employees go to great lengths to make their work area a "home away from home". Decorating a desk and office with the comforts of home is a good way to de-stress. Often, simple personal comforts, such as those listed above, assist with lowering employee stress levels, and, consequently, make the employee very productive in their work.


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Personal Items Must Be Respectful

Personal belongings that are brought to work to decorate a desk or workspace are cherished by employees. These items are a reflection of the personalities of these employees who wish to bring some of their "favorite things" to work. Much like a school locker or a dorm room, people like to decorate their personal workspace. While they act as an extension of the employee's hobbies, opinions, etc., the things that are placed in the office must always be respectful, not offensive to anyone in the workplace. For example, that swimsuit model calendar that is a favorite for the employee should stay at home to avoid creating problems in the workplace.

The EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, exists to investigate allegations of hostile work environment and/or discrimination in the workplace. Employees who display sexually graphic posters, pictures, jokes, etc., in the workplace will offend employees and customers who witness such display. Supervisors should take great care to educate employees on what things are appropriate for display at work. If a supervisor is unsure as to an item that is unacceptable, he/she should contact the HR Department for guidance. Allowing inappropriate material to be on display for all to see can lead to legal problems for an organization.


Maintaining a Professional Image at All Times

For employees, it is paramount to remember that work is still work. That is to say, bringing items from home to personalize the workspace should never be a distraction that will create disharmony in the workplace. Supervisors are wise to allow expressions of personality to be displayed through decorations and personal items while addressing any items that could be inappropriate décor for the organization. Employees will appreciate some freedom to display their favorite things while not offending or being offended by inappropriate items in the workplace. Personalizing an office should be fun without being outlandish or disruptive for the employer.

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    • profile image

      DrtiSnchz 3 years ago

      Its the workplace, not your home. Should be treated as such. So annoying when people adorn it like its their own home office. It belongs to the company...

    • dhimanreena profile image

      Reena Dhiman 3 years ago

      Frankly speaking, I don't like to decorate my workplace but yes, my colleagues love to adorn their work station. I enjoy while reading your hub as you have correctly explained all that stuff which I can also see on the workstation of my colleagues.

      Very well written hub !!!!