While most employees might like to spruce up their office with a new plant or piece of art, some add a bit more flair to their décor, new research shows.

A study from staffing firm The Creative Group revealed a number of strange and surprising items that have been seen in the offices of creative professionals, including rock collections, mermaid sculptures and a jar of pigs' feet.

"Creative professionals like to surround themselves with things they find visually engaging or inspiring, but there can be too much of a good thing," said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. "Displaying items that could cause people to question your professionalism can work against you."

The odd objects marketing and advertising executives have seen in workers' offices include:

  • A wall of empty soda cans
  • A jar of soda pop tabs
  • A desk full of paper airplanes
  • A flowerpot shaped like a skull
  • A marble tombstone
  • A picture of a former employee's head on a wooden desk
  • A 1950s-era television
To avoid making your office stand out for all the wrong reasons, The Creative Group offers several tips for fashioning a polished workspace that still inspires creativity, including:
  • Play nice: Some companies have guidelines about what employees can and can't display in their work areas. If an employer has no formal policy, take cues from how colleagues have customized their own offices.
  • Don't offend: A workspace is on display for coworkers, clients and bosses to see, so keep that in mind when selecting decor. Avoid off-color calendars, political posters, racy photos and other items that can raise eyebrows.
  • Be a minimalist: Showcasing a few souvenirs or gizmos can provide the eye candy needed to stay inspired, but filling a work area with too many knickknacks can be distracting.
  • Keep it neat: Even for those who are highly effective and efficient in their roles, a cluttered or messy office can give the impression of being disorganized. Make time each week to clear the desk of old papers, food wrappers and additional debris in order to have room for new projects and paperwork.
The study was based on surveys of 575 marketing executives from companies with 100 or more employees, and on additional surveys of 175 advertising executives from agencies with 20 or more employees.

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