With the number of hours you spend at your desk, it makes sense to personalize your workspace. The way you decorate your workspace says as much about who you are as your clothes and body language do. So, what does your workspace say about you?

  • Your cubicle is packed with pictures and mementos of your vacations and hobbies. It’s fine to have a few pictures as conversation starters, but experts say too many is a no-no, because if your office is filled with photos of fly fishing, people will wonder whether all you do is daydream about fly fishing.

  • What if your desk is neat and clean? Your workspace can indicate if it’s okay for people to hang around or not. For example, a welcoming office includes a full candy dish on your desk, aspirin in your drawer, well-tended plants, and pictures of kids. On the flip side, an ‘I want my privacy’ office has a flimsy guest chair – or none at all – and a desk faced away from the door, with minimal decoration.

Barbara Pachter is a business etiquette expert who wrote the book, New Rules at Work. She says the one thing you DON’T want to have is a messy office. Why? Because people will assume your office chaos will spill over into your work and their files will be lost in your mess. So, what can you do to make sure your workspace is sending the right message? Here’s what the experts say:

  • Keep your decorations on the conservative side, especially if you’re in a high-traffic area. You don’t want people stopping in their tracks to gawk at your collections of teddy bears or shot glasses.

  • Consider the physical arrangement of your office. Experts say a huge desk can act as a barrier, which is good for employee evaluations, but is off-putting to clients. Having a small circular table for meetings allows everyone to feel they’re on an equal level.

  • Follow industry norms. Some industries demand a strict image of seriousness, while others are more laid back. So, a Family Guy poster might be fine if you’re an advertising copywriter, but not if you’re a defense attorney.