Organizational Trends in the Workplace Revealed

April 19, 2005
The Steelcase Workplace Index Survey finds most office workers are 'neat freaks'

Grand Rapids, MI-based Steelcase, a global office environments manufacturer whose offerings help individuals to work more effectively and organizations to use space more efficiently, revealed results on April 11, 2005, of the first in a three-part Workplace Index Survey on the Nature of Work in 2005. Conducted by Opinion Research Corporation (ORC), the study surveyed approximately 700 office workers on information storage and workspace organization.

In today's offices, neatness abounds. Nearly 60 percent of respondents surveyed consider themselves to be "neat freaks" in the office. And women are much more likely than men to describe themselves as "neat freaks" (36 percent vs. 22 percent). Further, the youngest respondents (aged 18-24) are the most likely age group to choose "neat freak" as the phrase that best describes them (44 percent) compared to all other age groups (28 percent)

The survey also examines the methods in which office workers store information. According to the survey, only 15 percent of respondents consider themselves to be "pilers," while 26 percent of workers describe themselves as "filers." Only 2 percent of workers chose "slob" as the descriptor that best fit them.

"We work in an age of information overload, and staying organized is an even greater challenge than it was in the past," explains Chris Congdon, manager, corporate marketing, Steelcase, Grand Rapids. "Paper usage is increasing even though much of our information is being stored electronically. Plus, workers are storing disks and other media besides paper, making proper storage options essential."

When compared to a similar survey conducted by Steelcase 6 years ago, workers in 2005 are spending less time per day organizing their workspace (15 minutes on average), as compared to 1998, when workers reportedly spent an average of 20 minutes a day organizing.

"Results showing that people are spending less time organizing may indicate that workers now have more organizational options and components, allowing for more productivity," explains Congdon. "It is recognized that an organized work space allows for better productivity, which is why Steelcase is dedicated to helping workers organize smarter, especially today with the sheer volume of information that is available."

Other significant findings:

  • While it may seem that we are in an electronic age, workers are relying less on electronic storage of information than they did in 1998. Surprisingly, only 6 percent of workers surveyed store all of their information electronically, compared to 44 percent in 1998.

  • The majority of workers (82 percent) store information in both electronic and paper formats. Also, women are more likely than men (25 percent vs. 16 percent) to store more than half of their information in paper form.

  • Most workers (71 percent) have non-work related material stored in their work space. Of these workers, the younger workers (ages 18-24) were significantly more likely to have non-work related material in their work area (83 percent)

  • Some of the more common items stored in individual work spaces include food and beverages (36 percent), coats (35 percent), non-work-related books and magazines (28 percent), health and beauty aids (17 percent), shoes (12 percent), or sports gear (6 percent).

Steelcase conducts the Workplace Index Survey to uncover pertinent issues in today's work environment. This continual workforce feedback is essential to the development of Steelcase's information and expertise on the workplace, and to the company's product development and corporate ventures aimed to increase effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, and environmental responsibility.

Results of part two in the Nature of Work in 2005 series examines weekend work habits and will be unveiled in May 2005. Past surveys have been conducted on productivity in the workplace, technology used in meetings, workplace environmental concerns, and alternative postures in the workplace. Further information on workplace issues can be found on Steelcase's website(

This information was reprinted with permission from Steelcase Inc., a global leader in the office furniture industry. For more information, visit ( or call (616) 247-2710.

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