Why keeping a clean workplace is good for business

Owning and running a business comes with its own unique responsibilities—and we can’t imagine that maintaining a clean workplace tops your daily list of priorities.

Yet ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’ is a well-worn cliché because it’s true. Keeping a clean and tidy workplace for you, your staff, and your clients, can be extremely important for your business. Not only with making good first impressions, but also by creating the perfect atmosphere for productivity.

An organised desk is good for everyone

It’s easy to tell people to keep a tidy desk, but far harder to actually do it. Everyone has their own filing system—for some it’s using binders and shelves and filing cabinets, and for some it’s “Oh, that report? It’s under the third pile of invoices, next to the half-drunk coffee from last year in the red mug with the mould starting to grow out of it”.

We’re big fans of letting people work the way that’s most efficient for them. But there will be days when they aren’t in the office and someone has to cover their role, which makes it essential the desk and/or paperwork can be navigated. Having fewer items around also makes it harder to get distracted and far quicker to find things you need. Plus, a tidy desk makes it easier for cleaners to give it a wipe and a dust to keep it clean at the end of the day, without interfering with your work.

Messy shared areas can kill morale

Ever worked somewhere with a shared kitchen? Then you’ve already witnessed that snarky post-it note or group email asking for whoever exploded their soup in the microwave, or left a 4-month old lasagne in the back of the fridge, to go clean it up now please(!).

As with desks, everybody has their own idea of what is/isn’t their responsibility in the kitchen. Some clean up after themselves like lunch ninjas, so you’d never know they just made a three-course meal and cup of tea. While others will prepare their food by spraying it around like confetti, chucking a tea bag at the wall, then dumping all their cutlery in the sink for the magic cleaning fairies to work on.

Not only can this be extremely unhygienic (not to mention a health and safety hazard in some cases), and look awful for visitors, but it can be a real morale killer for those who have to use that space on a daily basis. And while kitchens are usually the worst of the communal areas, others like the toilets, meeting rooms, and even reception can all have the same morale-depleting effect on people if they’re not kept to a good level of cleanliness—which can have a serious impact on productivity.

Poor cleanliness can lose the majority of your customers

The retail trade is hard enough as it is without putting off 99% of your customers. Yet a study claimed that’s exactly what would happen if your business didn’t keep on top of its cleanliness.

The statistics from a study by market research firm Harris Interactive found that:

“99 per cent of consumers said poor cleanliness would negatively affect their perception of a retail store with unclean restrooms and unpleasant odours rated higher than poor customer service.”

In another study by Workplace, it was found that:

“60% [of respondents] would opt for online shopping if they visited your shop and the entrance was dirty or looked ugly.”

This isn’t just restricted to retail either, as the principles will apply to those in the service sector too. Keeping both the shopfront and the inside of your premises presentable and clean has to be your #1 priority, or else you won’t last long.

Things you can do to keep your workplace clean

Feel free to encourage tidy desks by making sure everyone has access to under-desk storage areas (drawers, cupboards) and the use of on-desk storage equipment (pen holders and letter trays). Plus keep all those IT cables tied up and away from the working area.

In the kitchen (and other shared areas), draw up a set of rules for staff to live by. Washing up whatever cutlery you use. Having a rota for checking out-of-date food in the fridge and then binning it. Having a nominated ‘cleanliness manager’ who can action any reported issues. Whatever you decide, get everyone on the same page and you might be able to avoid angry notes, staff arguments, and a drop in morale (and productivity) later down the line.

As for shop premises, make sure you give the outside a thorough check each day for any signs of damage or wear and tear on signs or windows. Remove any rubbish from outside if you can. And either nominate a designated cleaner among your staff to be responsible for keeping things clean and tidy during the day, or bring in hired help for that professional finish.


Want to keep your customers, make sure staff stay productive, and avoid those arguments over messy kitchens?


Maria Millgate