5 ways to personalize your desk -- professionally

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(MoneyWatch) Traditionally, a few personal photos placed on your desk can help you keep family members close while you're at work. Seeing those smiling favorite faces can be a morale booster, especially if you're working late. But if you go overboard or make poor choices, you risk looking unprofessional. Here are 5 things to keep in mind:

Choose appropriate shots

Michelle D. Roccia, Executive Vice President of Employee Engagement at the Boston-based recruiting firm WinterWyman says that photos of family, friends and even sports teams are fine -- all within reason. "Just make sure the shots you choose are appropriate," says Roccia. That means no sexy snaps of your spouse at your anniversary dinner, pictures of naked kids running through backyard sprinklers and no bachelor/bachelorette highlights of any kind.

Showcase your company spirit

Display happy photos of your team bonding at an offsite or accepting an award at an industry gala, suggests Roccia. "This is a great way for executives and managers to show the team how they're valued." It sends a message that they're like family -- or at the very least, you see their efforts and successes.

Avoid controversial images

Anything advertising your religious affiliations or political leanings should be left at home, far from the office. Think about it: You probably wouldn't talk about going to a potentially divisive political rally, so why would you display a photo that might spur a conversation about the same topic?

Have some fun

Little magnet games or puzzles can encourage interaction between teammates, and helps you develop a rapport with people whom you might not ordinarily meet. "It gives people a reason to stop and talk and shows that you have a fun side, too," says Roccia.

Curate carefully

A few great pics are a nice way to inject your personal life into your professional setting. But plastering every inch of your cube as if it were a large scrapbook can make you look immature and unfocused on work. Follow this rule: Whenever you add a photo, take another down.

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