Office Desks of the Rich and Famous: Churchill’s World War II Desks.

As Winston Churchill might have said, never was so much done by one man at two office desks. In the depths of World War II, the Prime Minister of Great Britain spent the long hard slog at an office desk set at the heart of the Cabinet War Rooms ten feet below the ground in Central London. After the war years, Churchill reflected on his long life in the service of the Empire, and wrote a number of books at his office desk in Chartwell, his principal home.

The Cabinet War Rooms are located under a government office building off Parliament Square in London. As war loomed, the building’s basement storage space was converted into Britain’s central war command, a bomb-proof and secure location from which the Allied effort could be fought and won.

Churchill’s office desk in the War Rooms can be found in Churchill’s Room, a suite made available for the Prime Minister and his family. Radio microphones remain standing on the desk, a reminder of the days when he would make wartime speeches from this location. Near the office desk is a closet-like space where the hotline to the White House was placed. (Read more…)

Office Desk Organizing, Japanese Style.

Modern office desk philosophies vary from “creative chaos” to the antiseptically clean, and ordinarily, you’ll find little agreement between employees on the best system to use. And then the Japanese came along: Japanese businesses have crystallized an organizing philosophy for every office desk that bears a closer look.

It’s called the “5S” system – a deceptively simple name for a comprehensive workplace organization methodology that’s taken the office world by storm.  Implemented correctly, 5S fosters effective workplace organization, simplifies the workplace environment, reduces waste, and improves work quality all over the office.

The “S” refers to the Japanese words that name each system, which Western implementors have translated with an equivalent English word beginning with “S”: sorting (seiri), or putting things in order; straightening (seiton), or arranging items properly; systematic cleaning or shining (seiso); standardizing (seiketsu), or maintaining a mindset that promotes constant cleanliness; and sustaining (shitsuke), or commitment to the process.

Sorting (seiri) is the practice of eliminating unnecessary tools and systems from every office desk, keeping only materials deemed essential to work. What you do keep should be prioritized depending on the requirement, and kept within reach as needed. This saves time for the average employee – seiri cuts down on time spent searching for necessary tools by removing clutter.

The elimination process doesn’t have to be done outright; a 5S practitioner might “tag” items on her office desk, adding a red tag with a use-by date on items that may prove useful in the future. If the use-by date passes without the object being used, then into the waste bin it goes. (Read more)