At present I work in a professional environment where there are 5 staff in a confined area(plenty of elbow room but a closed office environment).

There are usual items on the desk such as snacks for the day ahead, a plant on one desk and various items such as phones, wallets and other everyday items.

How would I go about either mentioning this to my manager or introducing a little bit at a time in a way to not make my co-workers feel uncomfortable or turn my work desk into a unprofessional location.

Just to clarify I am wanting to bring in personal effects to a workplace where there are non present.

  • 1
    Are you asking about adding to this or subtracting from it? What do you want to mention to your manager? Jun 19 '13 at 15:23
  • @MonicaCellio added clarification in. Ask my manager what or if there is a guideline. Jun 19 '13 at 15:27
  • 1
    It sounds like the company wants to keep the work space looking professional, so why not just ask your co-workers or boss "What is considered "professional"? Would X be OK?". They can give a far better answer than we could about how much they consider to be "too much"
    – Rachel
    Jun 22 '13 at 13:36

It's not clear from your question just what would happen if your desk did not look "professional". Do you have clients walking past your desk? Would they think poorly of you/your company if they saw personal effects on your desk?

You seem concerned that your co-workers might disapprove or feel uncomfortable, though I'm not sure why. Before going to your manager, you could just have a talk with your co-workers. If they're OK with it, it should be much easier to get manager approval (assuming that you'd need it your co-workers are OK with it). It doesn't have to be difficult or formal, it could be as simple as:

Hey guys, do you mind if I bring in ${personal_item} and place it on my desk? Would this bother you or not?

Where ${personal_item} could be a picture of a loved one, or family members, or some other object with personal meaning to you.

If no one has any objections, just make sure the item you bring in is appropriate for the workplace. For example: no naked/nearly-naked pictures of your partner. Taxidermied hunting trophies, or objects that make controversial political statements might also be inappropriate. If you're not sure, maybe explain what you plan to bring before actually bringing it.


I would bring a single photograph of someone near and dear to you.

If you bring too many personal affects, people will come up to your cubicle and start to talk you about it and eat up your time and patience. This is from personal experience.

  • It also makes it take longer when you have to pack up to leave that job.
    – user37746
    Jul 22 '16 at 15:48

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