Pig at the office

Workstations gone wild: The strangest items seen around the office

Peter Harris|

People like to personalize their workspaces. It can showcase a bit of your personality and make the place where you spend eight to twelve hours a day feel a little more like home. My desk is covered with about a dozen or so books, promotional materials from the campaign for a National Work From Home Day, a wedding picture of my wife and I, and a spare jacket and tie for emergency media calls.

Nothing too unusual there. (Okay the WFHD paraphernalia does include a protest sign that reads: No cubicle! No commute! No clothes!)

The Creative Group released a survey last week of the strangest things that advertising and marketing executives have seen on their employees desks. Some of the more surprising included:

  • A live pig (!?)
  • A punching bag
  • A mermaid sculpture
  • A pair of men’s underwear
  • A rock collection
  • A hair dryer
  • A drawer full of clothes


The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on more than 750 telephone interviews with marketing execs in Canada and the US. Some of the office décor that they reported seeing was of a rather macabre variety:

  • A bottle opener in the shape of an eye; when you open a beverage, it appears to be crying
  • A flowerpot shaped like a skull
  • A marble tombstone
  • A bottle of vodka


“Office design can have a big impact on an employee’s productivity,” said Alicia Brum, branch manager of The Creative Group. “Since many creative jobs entail coming up with new ideas, it’s common for these individuals to surround themselves with items they find inspiring. However, professionals must always keep their company culture and colleagues in mind when decorating their work area, and avoid showing anything that may be offensive or distracting to others.”

One can only imagine that many coworkers would find the “live pig” somewhat distracting at the office.

I think there are some creative folks here on team Workopolis, so I decided to talk a walk around the office to see what strange stuff people were using to personalize their spaces. Among other things, I found:

  • A samurai sword
  • A complete collection of plastic farm animals
  • An Astroturf wall (These first three items were all beautifying the same person’s desk)
  • A dartboard with a VPs face on it (a potentially career-limiting move)
  • A Viking helmet


The Creative Group followed up their survey with four tips for creating a professional workspace that still inspires creativity:

  • Observe the office culture. Some companies will have guidelines about what you allowed to display in your work area. If there is no formal policy, take cues from how your coworkers have customised their offices, and don’t colour too far outside the lines.
  • Don’t be offensive. Your workspace is on display for your coworkers, clients and bosses to see, so keep that in mind when selecting decor. (Again, coworker of mine, that dartboard with Frank’s face on it is a risky move.) Avoid off-colour calendars, political posters, racy photos and other items that can raise eyebrows.
  • Keep it simple. Showcasing a few souvenirs or gizmos can provide the eye candy you need to stay inspired, but filling your work area with too many knickknacks can be distracting.
  • Don’t make a mess. Even if you’re highly effective and efficient in your role, a cluttered or messy workspace can give others the impression that you’re disorganised. Make time each week to clear your desk of old papers, food wrappers and additional debris so you have room for new projects and paperwork.


How about you? What is the strangest item that you’ve ever seen someone decorate their workspace with? If you can get a photo of the bizarre or over-the-top décor, please share it with us on our Facebook wall. We’re starting a workstation gone wild collection.

Source: The Creative Group: INDECOROUS DECOR – Survey Reveals Unusual Objects Seen Around the Workplace


- Peter Harris

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Category: Life At Work,