Family photographs top global poll on what takes up space on work desk

City's workspaces tend to be cluttered, but on the mainland, desks are dressed to impress

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 December, 2012, 4:55am

Family photos and business cards are the top items Hongkongers keep on their work desks, in line with other countries, but on the mainland, art outranks work contacts, a new survey shows.

Senior executives in Hong Kong also like to have imported snacks, concert tickets and restaurant phone numbers on their desks, all vying for space next to a lucky charm, be it a money cat or a big Buddha, the poll revealed.

"The Hong Kong desk tends to be pretty full," said Hans Leijten, East Asia vice-president of serviced office provider Regus, which conducted the global poll.

The concert tickets may be to show off, or a reminder to not leave the office too late, Leijten said, while the snacks would often be from colleagues who had brought them back from recent overseas trips.

On the mainland, desks are more likely to be dressed to impress, with cheaper rent meaning bigger offices and hence bigger desks, especially for senior managers.

"In China, size does matter," said Leijten, referring to large wooden desks filled with paraphernalia being a common sight in mainland companies. "The office in China is the image of the company, showing success and status, whereas in the West, the office is more functional."

Worldwide, the top five desk items for senior managers are family photos, useful business cards, works of art, a dictionary or thesaurus, and a child's drawing.

About 20,000 senior executives from 80 countries were polled across a range of industries including the banking, IT, health care and retail sectors.

The biggest regional difference was a lucky charm, which was more prominent in Asian countries than in the UK, US or Australia. "It's not a shrine, but maybe a money cat or a big Buddha," Leijten said. "For some sales people, they tend to believe particular items on the desk will help close the deal."

A surprise result was in Japan, where family photos ranked only third, behind business cards and a dictionary. Leijten suggested that small offices and pricey real estate could be a reason for the finding.