It's the same problem everywhere: Overloaded desks aren't just frustrating for their owners -- they also make employers unhappy. Academic researchers have long been studying the issue and have reached some surprising conclusions. According to a study on the "lean office" by the Stuttgart-based Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation, a good 10 percent of working time is wasted through "superfluous or missing work material" or "constant searching for the right document in chaotic file directories."
The researchers found that wasted time in poorly organized offices could eat up nearly one-third of annual working time. Over a year, that means there are 70 days in which employees are -- as Kurz puts it -- "engaging in pointless activity." It's a statistic which would shock any personnel manager...
According to figures from the German association of office furniture manufacturers BSO, more than 18 million German employees and freelancers -- out of a population of 82 million -- have their own desk at work. In addition, there are a further 2 million desks in private homes. That's a lot of potential clutter.
"The desk is kind of like an exterior version of our brain," says Küstenmacher. "Whatever you have in your head, is reflected, almost magically, on your desk."