Office Decor

I have often been criticized for my office decor scheme.  Specifically, I don’t have one.  I don’t mean that my first edition Thundercats action figures clash with my talking Nietzsche wallpaper.  I mean that, in general, I don’t decorate.  My offices over the last decade have had a few common items.

  • Coffee pot (unless there was one within 10 feet of the door already)
  • A handful of photos
  • A whiteboard
  • A small demovitational picture

That’s about it.  I’ve never been one for much on the walls or the desk.  I even had the facilities manager try to move someone into my office while I was traveling because they thought it was unused.  Seriously.

On the other hand, I’ve seen offices that could have easily passed for someone’s bedroom, sans the Serta.  Every inch of their space was covered in personal paraphernalia, and they had clearly marked the territory as their own, including a signature scent or air freshener.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people somewhere in the middle, but there are for sure extremes on both sides of the spectrum.

What’s the right balance?  It’s a personal choice, of course, but I think of it along the lines of a visitor.  If I’m out of the office and someone needs to use the space, how will the room make them feel?  If the answer is, “I’m clearly unwelcome here” or “Has this wing of the building been abandoned?” then you’re probably off target.  I normally fall in that latter category, I guess.

In the end, there is a line.  You can personalize without going overboard, just as you can keep a Zen office and still have furniture.  Like most things in life, it’s all about balance.

How’s your digs set up?  Any chance you’ll have your desk taken away?  Any chance you’ll be accused of having moved in permanently?


  1. I think part of the problem is that people think of their office as their personal space. This is not true, either from a legal or a functional argument. The part is of course easy, as company space his company space. There are no rights when it comes to decorating. Of course your home office is different, but only partially true, as companies reserve the right to set working conditions for telecommuters and that can include the conditions in which the work is done. But none of that is the more interesting stuff.

    What’s most important is understanding that in 99% of situations, you are not the only one that does work in your office space. People come in, have conversations, make decisions, and make assessments, all in your office space. The office should be designed around what is the best way to get that work done. It’s less about image, and less about expressing yourself. It is about functionality 1st.

    Jamie Flinchbaugh

  2. When I got my first job with my own office, my dad told me “Buzz, don’t put more $#%! in you office than you can carry out in one box. You never know when you’re going to have to move.” I’ve followed this rule for every office I’ve had since. Less is more.

  3. Okay so much like Buzz’s comment, I don’t have a lot of stuff hanging around. I recall we had to fire a man who had been with the company for years and had a lot of personal stuff in his office. Waiting for him to pack that up and leave while hold back his tears was painful, but wait there’s more. For some reason we decided to fire him in the morning and his wife dropped him off so he had to stand outside, in the rain with 2 boxes…

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