I read in the August issue of Real Simple magazine that 83% of human-resource managers feel that the state of an employee's office affects their perception of his/her's professionalism. I think that's trite, but since I heard once that it takes about 10 seconds for someone to size you up before forming an opinion, I guess it's not that surprising.
I knew someone who was fired for her disheveled office. J was a good friend and a solid (though slow-working) graphic artist. She was creative and hard-working. Incidentally, she was also a hoarder. You couldn't walk in her house easily, and even then, in a single-file path, as 'things' were stacked from floor to ceiling. She had two metal racks full of costumes in her dining room, for some reason never fully explained when I asked. You couldn't see the furniture for the junk. She also had a crammed-to-the brim storage unit, and she had a layaway tag on so many items in antique stores in the state that a fellow worker and I used to joke to one another about how we knew it was 'J' before we turned a tag over on an item we wanted.
This was before the TV shows on hoarders, so we didn't know quite how (or if) we should approach the issue. I felt as long as she wasn't affecting anybody and it didn't interfere with her work, it wasn't our place to intervene, other than to let her know we'd help should she want to have a garage sale (!) I went as far as to suggest we might team up to tackle each other's houses for any 'daunting' cleaning projects or painting chores, but she didn't seem interested. I let it go. Unfortunately, our bosses didn't feel that way. I heard raised voices one afternoon and our 'head' boss from DC was loudly inquiring how he was supposed to walk into her office without stepping on 'something important,' and that she 'couldn't possibly be efficient and organized in a mess like this.'
I tried to talk with her a few times after that to let her know people were talking, and whether or not I could help her organize. She insisted everything had to stay in place and everything was necessary for work, despite my picking through stuff like 4 rough drafts of edited papers that had long been published...
Well, you know where this is going...she was fired after being put on probation a few months. She went back to school and is in a totally new career and much happier. Sadly we don't get together too often anymore, and when we do we go to a restaurant. So I haven't seen the inside of her house.
Every time I sigh over the 'trail' Excy leaves throughout the house, I remember J and don't feel quite as bad. But I have had to 'surrender' the library over to Be (his dad's) paper until he gets all the mess sorted out. He's promised to let me have a bonfire this fall.