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What do you collect at the workplace?

By Justin Thompson, CareerBuilder.com
updated 7:31 AM EST, Mon November 21, 2011
Is your desk covered with the things you like to collect?
Is your desk covered with the things you like to collect?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Employers have negative perceptions of workers who have Hoarder-like work spaces
  • Keep a blazer and accessories at your desk to quickly dress up an outfit
  • Be kind to the environment and bring a mug and cutlery from home

(CareerBuilder.com) -- I've noticed that workers often have a lot of shoes underneath their desks. Oddly enough, I always assume that if one were to be fired, packing up shoes might just be the weirdest job that person's manager would be tasked with.

As you can see, when I rounded up the shoes from six of my nearest co-workers, I realized that we could outfit a staff double our size.

But shoes aren't the only things people are bringing in to work and leaving at their desks.

When I asked our Twitter followers what they kept, I got some interesting responses including bobbleheads, tradeshow tchotchkes, gargoyles and a whole bunch of bric-a-brac. The weirdest one: A follower's co-worker collected used microwave meal trays.

And when I looked around our desks a little more, I noticed how much people really do "move in" to their spaces. But when does it cross the line from "lived in" space to closely resembling something featured on an episode of "Hoarders"?

Earlier this year we conducted a survey on workplace hoarding, and the results were shocking. People openly admitted that they let their desks become overwhelmed with clutter, whether that clutter meant Happy Meal toys, Koala bears or bananas.

(Please note I'm not saying that my co-workers have cluttered desks, I just liked how this shot showed off a lot of gems).

But here's my question -- what's okay to have stored at your desk and what isn't? We learned from the survey that employers had negative perceptions of workers who had Hoarder-like work spaces. Thirty-eight percent of managers said piles of paper covering a desk negatively impacted their opinion of that person; 27 percent felt they are disorganized, while 16 percent said they are just messy.

Here are my basic, non-scientific recommendations for what to keep at your desk/office/workplace:

Extra pair of shoes: I'll give you this one. When it's pouring rain, the snow has surpassed the two-foot mark or if you have to hoof it a mile to get to your destination, just go ahead and wear comfortable shoes. Besides, dress shoes can cost a pretty penny, so you might as well just keep them at the office where they'll remain pretty and less beat up from travel wear and tear.

Blazer: Called into a client meeting or know that the VP is stopping by your area later? It's probably best to have a jacket at work just in case. Being able to dress up your look in a minute is key.

Accessories: For men, I'd recommend keeping a tie handy. Ladies, a fancier accessory such as a bracelet or necklace should work; not the crown jewels, of course.

Umbrella: Self-explanatory.

Sweater/jacket: Good for when the weather changes and the heat hasn't kicked in yet.

One coffee mug plus one set of cutlery: Instead of using Styrofoam, be kind to the environment and use a mug from home. Also, for cutlery, I find that I break plastic forks at a rate of 10:1. Therefore, I keep my own knife, fork and spoon at work.

Some pictures or fun mementos: It's nice to have memorabilia that either reminds you of your family while you're away or shows off your work accomplishments.

As far as anything else you use as decoration, I'd always follow the advice that less is more and the total weight of your toys/collectibles/junk should be less than your own body weight.

Take a look around your workplace. Who's in need of an intervention and a trash can? If it's you, please share your secret with me in the comments below. And remember: This is a safe place to share your unhealthy obsession with multi-colored labeling tabs or to come clean about the superfluous condiment packets hiding in your desk drawer. Or tell us what you have on standby at work for either important meetings or emergency client dinners.

© CareerBuilder.com 2011. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority.

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