Martha Stewart bans personal photos and clutter among office staff

Martha Stewart
In an effort to ensure that her office is clutter-free, Martha Stewart has banned employees at her publishing division from having personal photos and any kind of clutter on their desks. Their cubicles must be clean at the end of the day with no photos or extra junk lying around. She also has rules about the type of office supplies they use. The National Enquirer ran this story in their latest issue, and it seems to be based on a Gawker report from late January along with Martha’s response on her blog, which kind of acknowledges that it’s true that she doesn’t permit clutter. She does say that it’s not true that people are only allowed to use certain kind of pens. She doesn’t like blue pens at all and it’s about to have them in the office supply closet, but if employees want to bring them in they’re not banned or anything.

Kevin Sharkey and Martha have decided that their new design scheme will be marred by any of the following: ink colors other than red or black, desks that are not completely clear at the end of the day, except for one metal basket of approved office supplies, and anything that could be construed as being personal, such as photos or coffee mugs (I guess drinking fluids slows down the proletariat). Perhaps they are figuring the last part makes it that much easier to lay people off quickly, because they won’t have to waste everyone’s time by clearing out their desks.

[From Gawker]

And here’s Martha’s response, in which she hilariously plugs her office supply line:

I just want to say that this article is a misrepresentation of what actually was discussed within our offices. The list of pens is an assortment of what our company will provide our employees with at our expense. We never stated that other pens were not allowed to be used. In these tough economic times, harmony is essential within the working environment. I must also inform you that we use a great assortment of writing implements from the Martha Stewart crafts line available at Michael’s Crafts and Walmart.

[From Martha Stewart’s blog]

I love Martha Stewart and while she’s probably a pain in the ass to work for at least she seems to have a sense of humor about it. It’s Martha Stewart, of course she wants her office to look impeccable as that’s what she promotes on her show and in her magazine. This woman has taught me so many tricks for organizing my house and making guests feel welcome, and I feel like she has a right to demand that her employees keep their desks clean. That way, Martha can go around and put ribbons around their computer monitors once they’ve left for the night.

Thanks to Gawker for these pictures.



You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

33 Responses to “Martha Stewart bans personal photos and clutter among office staff”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Lalala says:

    that is the most depressing picture I have ever seen…

    • Sherry says:

      I have to say I agree but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked.

      Martha is so crafty and creative that I would have thought the offices would have been gorgeous and an inviting, creative environment. Would actually improve employee performance.

      I don’t understand this even if she is somewhat OCD.

      • Elle says:

        I honestly don’t know how people get their work done. I work in the garment industry and almost everyone leaves projects in the making on their desk when they leave the office at night. Then the next day, we know exactly where we left off. If I’m considering 3 or 4 different buttons for a style, those buttons could end up staying on my desk for two days, while we have meetings about them.

  2. anastasiabeaverhausen says:

    I don’t care, I LOVE HER. I’m pretty OCD and anal myself, so I’d fit in perfectly there. In fact, I’d be very happy. My own boss has an office that looks like a bomb went off and I can’t handle it. I had to stop myself from trying to clean and organize in there. It annoys her.

    I LOVE the allowed writing instruments. Hell, I want to run an office that way. Except no one would hate me for it because I’m funny and I love to give people gifts. I’d be the world’s greatest boss. Move over, Michael Scott.

  3. KateNonymous says:

    Wow, it’s like she’s Dabney Coleman in 9 to 5!

  4. Chiara says:

    I’ve had beautiful maps, family photos, humorous comments, all done with taste and color. A colorful, happy, engaging work environment is good for the psyche and production.

    Surprised Martha hasn’t tapped this market 🙂

  5. Baholicious says:

    No knicknacks, no colour anywhere just a neutral cube with a screen to look at. It’s not a Good Thing.

    Would a flower in a bud vase for each workstation be too much to ask for? Some fluorescent post-its maybe?

    Additionally, I notice how there was no thought whatsoever given to ergonomics. The monitor is too low and the keyboard shouldn’t be on the desk surface – that’s too high.

    I do marvel at her neuroses though. They’re seemingly limitless.

  6. Diva says:

    I would lose my MIND in that sterile looking environment!

    Guess I’ll withdraw my resume’ from MS Inc. {=0P

  7. Syko says:

    She really should reconsider blue pens. If you sign documents in black ink, it’s sometimes hard to tell the original from the copies. That’s why our law firm prefers to use blue pens.

    The environment does seem sort of sterile, but hey, she’s the boss. All bosses have their own weird ideas. Ours, for example, will only allow yellow post-it notes. He doesn’t care if we bring in the neon ones, but he’s convinced the yellow are the cheapest, so that’s the way he goes. But my desk has NEVER been that clean.

    At any rate, even working in that environment is preferable to be unemployed, which is where more and more people are finding themselves.

  8. cindy says:

    next theyll all have to get martha stewart jail tats “Im Marthas Bitch” on the but or your no longer employed. I like the idea im going to pass it on to my employes. My husband wont do it but there is always some dummy out there

  9. kiki says:

    dont mess with Martha she’s been to prison

  10. Orangejulius says:

    To each his own control freak.

  11. Annie says:

    My desk right now would make her pass out it’s that bad. LOL.

    Post its all over the monitors, pictures of everyone I love, papers everywhere…oh man.

  12. vdantev says:

    Tell her, ‘Bite me, jailbird. At least I didn’t do time for insider trading.’

  13. Baluk says:

    this actually goes against the Jan. issue of MS Living…where they show each editor’s desk and some are not so tidy or cleaned up.

  14. Persistent Cat says:

    Next she’s going to ban protein from their lunches. That’s usually the second step.

    I kid, I kid. She’s the boss, she has the right.

    My desk is always a disaster and keeping it tidy is really, physically hard for me. I have a colleague that would LOVE to work there. I’m not a big fan of pictures and stuff but in my office, we travel a lot for work and we bring stuff back for each other so we have some cool stuff on our desks.

  15. Aspen says:

    Tidy is one thing…sterile is another. I would never work for someone who forbade me coffee at my desk or a photo of my family.

    Caffeine and the ability to purchase it for myself are two of the foremost reasons that I ever even bothered to build a career. The other reason I would seek employment is to support my family. Working in such a sterile environment (which cannot be pleasant all the time), I would need a photo and constant access to my reasons for remaining employed so that my butt would remain at my desk…doing the job I was being paid to do.

  16. AC says:

    I’m pretty anal and my desk sorta (well, there are some little trinkets on my desk though) looks like the pic at the top, so it wouldn’t bother me much to work there.

    I’ve gotten alot of compliments from my co-workers on the neatness of my work area many times before and it has always been a source of pride to me to maintain a neat work area.

    People with messy (not colorful or full of pretty pictures and/or trinkets) desks have always bothered me though and I’ve always had to fight the urge to make suggestions to them for straitening their desks.

    I think Martha is a little extreme though. It’s all about presentation – if you have alot of crap on your desk, as long as it’s organized neatly, that’s all that matters.

  17. pookynut says:

    Too bad Martha’s not so anal about her roots.. oh, snap!

  18. Blah blah blah says:

    When I first saw “Thanks to Gawker for the pictures,” initially I interpreted that as pictures they took mocking the rules. Then I realized… apparently that’s not the case.

    At first I thought I could really relate (I hate blue pens, like the ‘zen’ of clean places, etc), but that place is too sparse. Couldn’t Martha have developed some scheme for it to remain uncluttered but visually attractive?

  19. J says:

    Could you please throw a little color in that office Martha ????

  20. Joanne says:

    This is so NOT Martha Stewart. Read any mag of hers. They are all about the use of color, pattern, designs, and being ultra organized, using wonderful boxes, books, bags, tags, trays, all with color and designs. This is not a good way to support the rest of what she produces in her company. NO ideas can be generated in this environment. But maybe that’s why there’s nothing around. Maybe they are not the idea makers and she feels they do not need the encouragement. But really! This is so depressing.

  21. Lynn Johnson says:

    Talk about sterile!!! I guess she does not have any spontaneous and artsy people working for her. That kind of environment will dry out your bones.

  22. Codzilla says:

    Persistent Cat: A hearty LOL at the protein ban!

  23. Carena says:

    My office is pretty restrictive on this type of thing too, but they decorated everything for us so while it doesn’t look personal, it also doesn’t look like the craft area at the nut house.

  24. Anna says:

    It’s like a morgue.

  25. tanyetta says:


  26. Peyton says:

    holy crap… i would either die of boredom or kill myself from the lack of “fun” so to say… eww

  27. Sarah says:

    Maybe she misses prison, so she forces her employees to work in one too.

  28. Laura says:

    Ughhh. I was the executive assistant to one of the main MS Omnimedia executives many years ago, and I’m not surprised about these current regulations. For awhile, it seemed like prison had changed her, humbled her. Obviously, that has all worn off.

  29. ROBERT says:

    I had more warmth in my Marine Corps squad bay with thirty two other guys living there. At least we were allowed photos, and some personal items. Was she in Ad Seg in prison?

  30. AJ says:

    Years ago, I worked for a manager at a really large corporation who tried to ban personal family photos on his employee’s desk. I did not pay attention to his edict and kept the three photos of my family on my desk. When he challenged me in the issue, I asked he to show me where the rule is located in the company policy or employee handbook. He turned, walked away. I never heard another word from him on the subject. Unlike Martha Stewart, he did not own the company that employed thousands of employees world wide.

    He was bully an idiot and the most insecure individual I’ve ever met. I know I wasted a cannon on a flea, but to me is was simple battle worth fighting at the time.

  31. hathore says:

    Anyone here ever seen 9 to 5 with Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton???
    we all know what happened to their boss lol- natives become restless.