This kind of article is on the verge of trolling. Being an embedded engineer I have on the average use about three desk tops of “junk” (comprising of a mix of parts, cares, cables, and test equipment that looks like spaghetti piles). The fun part is when you have an office mentality that everyone can equally fit into a nice 4’x8’ cubical with a pair of compsci code monkeys in a paperless office. The boss breezes by and turns up his nose and asks why you cannot be as organized as the rest of the Spartan black turtlenecks or make everything look FOA pretty. The manager thinks this engineer guy does not deserve this big room that rivals his and if that guy was to get organized and reduce, he could fit into one of those authorized 4’x4’ cubicles. I notice by the picture there is a radiant heater. This I have seen before because it means the “messy” arcane engineer is likely shoved into the corner basement where there is no heat while all the FOA workers are in the nicer areas so the boss can proudly show them off. I also see lots of parts, starter kits, manuals, spare computers, lab equipment, microscope, several working computers, special software, couple old desks (no fancy glass/stainless ones or fancy chairs), and drawers of drawings. Sure you can get rid of the things you are not currently using and spend days or weeks reordering when needed. You can’t download a transistor, cable, or demo board in a few seconds. Then there is the priority to get things to work then worry about esthetics. With deadlines looming, esthetics goes out the window. When all is said and done, man-agers cannot turn a wild game sausage maker into a clean room bunny suit jockey. Alas, they try and whimper at the results.
I used to work at a company, Methode, and we got a new area manager whose forte was accounting and sales, not even close on engineering. He decided to start weekly clean cube audits because the Japanese engineering offices were so clean. First they got rid of the messy cubes, then all of the really creative engineers left about the same time that the new manager announced that we had too many engineers, so we would be getting rid of a few, if we needed more we would just hire them because they are all the same. I am not certain exactly what business they are in presently. But the cubes are neat.
Always reply with the following "Did you hire an Engineer or a house keeper?" Engineers solve dozens of issues a day and leave parts of projects spreadout over several tables and desks. If you move anything you sabotage the project, leave the mess alone.
Years ago, I found that a clean desk can be a detriment! While working in the test lab at Harris, we had a quota of so many pieces of equipment to calibrate each week. Unfortunately, at that time a Simpson 260 was worth as many points as a spectrum analyzer! (System later balanced out to a dollar per dollar system) So, the name of the game was to rush out on Monday morning and grab as many Simpson 260s due for calibration as possible. If one was successful, he could have half his quota by noon Monday.
So, one Friday, I cleaned up my desk spotlessly clean, and everything put away and organized so I'd have a running start Monday.
Come in Monday morning, and there on my desk was the awfullest pile of Junk I'd ever seen!! And the boss by the desk: "So and so in such and such department no longer needs any of this stuff, sort through it and see if there's anything we can use!"
Needless to say, quota not met that week.
A clean desk attracts others' junk.
There was a time (before e-mail) when my in-tray would become so overloaded, that I would take a large envelope - stuff it - and mail it to myself (through internal mail)... It would usually take 2 days to return to me, giving me time to sort out the remainder of the contents in my tray...
I worked for a company in the 90s that adopted some silly management concept of changing things just for the sake of change because "it would increase productivity". Everybody's office got relocated except mine. I found out years later that a director had said that they would have moved my office also but it would have shut the company down for 6 months. Now that is messiness of legendary proportions.
I had an archeological filing system with a slope towards the front of my tables. When stuff started falling off the front of the table I would SELF-IMPOSE a cleanup of sorts.
Years ago, while an engineer at IBM I got in some trouble after posting the sign "A Clean Lab is an UNUSED Lab" during a forced lab cleanup for a management walk through. I was upset because I had to disassemble a working test system, and then had to rebuild it from scratch, starting a few minutes after the walk through!