By Daniel Hunter

Nearly half of the nation’s desks are a mess, leading to friction with colleagues, warnings from the boss and increased stress levels, according to new research from stationery experts Staples.

With an average of 19 useless pieces of paper littering every desk in the UK, nearly half (48 per cent) of workers questioned owned up to losing important paperwork because their desk lacks organisation, with ten per cent of Brits admitting that it has been over six months since they last organised or cleaned their workspace.

Key stats:

· Women and men are equally messy in the workplace
· 52 per cent only tidy their desks once a month at most, with 10 per cent not cleaning their desk during the past 6 months
· 48 per cent of workers have lost important paperwork because their desk lacks organisation
· 56 per cent of participants feel an immediate rise in their stress levels when faced with a messy desk

Some desks are so unruly that over a quarter (26 per cent) of those surveyed have received complaints from a colleague or boss, with one in ten (12 per cent) receiving a formal warning about their messy ways.

The survey which polled 2000 Brits reveals that almost a third (31 per cent) have desks strewn with half-eaten food, empty wrappers and bottles, and nearly half (46 per cent) admitted to leaving dirty cups and plates around their workspace, with over one in twenty (6%) leaving grubby crockery on their desk for three days or more. Debunking the popular myth that women are tidier then men, the study also found that members of the fairer sex have desks just as messy as their male counterparts.

“A messy desk is not only bad for your own mind-set, it also harms your relationships with colleagues," Dr Tomas Chamorro, a Professor of Business Psychology at UCL, said.

"Our research shows that untidy desks are clearly a widespread problem with negative career implications, such as conveying an unprofessional image to clients, being in your manager’s bad books, and receiving a formal warning from your employer. Rather than ignoring this issue, people should get their act together and enjoy the benefits of a tidy desk.”

While an untidy desk can aggravate our colleagues, disturbingly the research found that it can have a significant impact on our stress levels in the workplace.

More than half (56 per cent) of participants feel an immediate rise in their stress levels when faced with a messy desk as soon as they get into the office in the morning. Despite this, over half of us (52 per cent) only tidy our desks once a month at most.

“A messy desk can have a very serious impact on our stress levels and therefore our happiness in general," Dr Tomas Chamorro added.

"Over half of our respondents said that their stress levels increased purely at the sight of their messy desk; continued stress can lead to low energy, anxiety and a negative mood. Our participants’ well-being could be significantly boosted by simply devoting a bit more effort and resource to keeping their office environments tidy and well-organised.”

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