When it came time to deliver the news to his staff about cleaning up their work space, John Caracciolo decided to get down and dirty: "You've got to part with your stuff," the president and chief executive of JVC Broadcasting Co. told his 45 employees.
JVC's Ronkonkoma, N.Y., office, home of four radio stations, had become a home to stacks of papers, broken equipment, band memorabilia and, Caracciolo said, "Girl Scout cookies from every troop on Long Island."
It was "purge week," Caracciolo said shortly after he filled his own wastebasket with outdated business cards. "So, yes, we are ordering a Dumpster and decluttering our stations."
Two full Dumpsters later, he reported his office being "lean and mean right now."
Indeed, at this time of year that urge to tackle home closets, drawers and dark spaces under the sink can spill over to spring cubicle cleaning, said Lorraine Kimmey, a professional organizer in Blue Point, N.Y. There's a certain energy at this time of year, she said. "It's about making a renewal."
For Caracciolo, 46, it's "the feeling we all get when the first sunny day hits. You want to start new and fresh and get ready for a busy second and third quarter."
While her desk may still be "a work in progress," Donna Kolb-Laukaitis, 50, senior account executive, said she spent time over the weekend organizing and clearing stacks of folders and papers, relocating them to a new file cabinet she has had since late January.
Certainly, there is a value to digging out: improved productivity, pride in your space, a diminished chance of rodents and worse. The state of your cubicle can also affect how you're perceived by the boss.
A telephone survey last fall of more than 516 human resources professionals found 83 percent said people's professional images are greatly or somewhat affected by the state of their desks, according to the research by staffing firm OfficeTeam in Menlo Park, Calif.
One factor in the accumulation of office clutter is a lack of downtime in which to sort, evaluate and purge, said Chris Campisi, metro market manager for Long Island with staffing firm Robert Half International, of which OfficeTeam is a division. It's fine if you have an administrative assistant to help keep things organized, he said. But most people "don't have that luxury."
Jim Dreeben, 70, owner of Peconic Paddler in Riverhead, N.Y., said he and a friend started a major cleanup March 30 as Dreeben shifted focus from his winter snowplowing business to the sale and rental of kayaks, canoes and paddles. The annual cleanup includes sweeping, vacuuming and purging.
In the end, he says, the shop "looks pretty classy."