Working in a building with sixteen ventures at different stages of maturity, I can assure you that there is no correlation between the number of sticky notes on a white board and venture success. White board proliferation is good for one thing - distracting people from what really matters (which is getting great work done) by giving them a warm and fuzzy feeling seeing different coloured sticky notes on the wall. Actually, the ventures that seem to have a defined sense of purpose and clear articulation of their proposition don’t seem to have lots of sprint boards on their walls.
Here’s why a clean desk policy helps ventures grow their business faster and work better:
1. Happiness - To get clean desks people need to pack away their belongings at the end of the day. This allows them to physically “close the day”. Locking up their belongings and tidying away creates a clear break in their work. People will go home with the feeling that the day is closed and can get their minds into a different space, dedicated to rest and being with their families or friends. The following day, the ritual of getting things from the locker creates a mindframe for the day ahead and the tasks that need to be achieved, before the belongings get returned to the locker.
2. Focus - Paper documents, reports, presentations, or other belongings kept on the desk act as distractions, meaning people interrupt their tasks to dedicate attention to the clutter. With a clean desk, people will focus on the tasks they defined at their stand-ups and to-do lists derived from their OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). Focus increases.
3. Productivity - With more focus and less distractions, productivity will also increase, but another effect of a clean desk policy is that all information is now digital and should be in common repositories. More people in teams have access to the same information and can add value in a more coordinated way.
4. Confidentiality - Needless to say, if there are no reports or paper on desks, there isn’t the possibility of a lost soul walking around the office with access to confidential information like new functionality, new releases, or financial information related to the venture – this can be indirect, like the number of users of a platform for example.
5. Authority - An office with clean desks exudes authority, and people working in the clean office will think with authority, be more acute, decisive, and to the point. This can make a venture grow faster and work better.
– Nuno Santos, Managing Director