Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Personal Trinkets at Work Can Hurt Image

Your collection of snow globes – now numbering somewhere in the dozens – is quite eye-catching, covering nearly every available space in your cubicle. And that poster of the Hooter’s girls really adds a special touch, as does the photo of you and your buddies emptying the keg at a beach party.

Ahh…there’s nothing like having a workspace that’s, well, comfy. Something like a home away from home. (Not to mention the screen saver of your dog giving birth is just awesome!)

But according to a recent study, so many personal touches may actually hurt your professional image.

Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business found that if more than one in five items that adorn a worker’s office or cubicle are personal in nature, others may view that as unprofessional. (For the record, personal touches were seen as photos, artwork, posters of movie stars, sports equipment, etc.)

Still, this may be only an American bias, since a “general aversion for blurring the work/personal boundary in the context of work is more reflective of American business practices” that those in other countries, says Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks.

Sanchez-Burks, an assistant professor of management and organizations at the school, says that Americans like to put on their game face when entering the workplace door, and don’t cotton to the idea of a lot of personal gee-gaws cluttering up the space.

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