A study done by the University of Michigan Ross School's professor, Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, has suggested that workers in the US imagined a greater proportion of personal artifacts in an unprofessional colleague's office than in one described as professional. But this norm doesn't hold outside the US, which can make it difficult for expatriates to navigate the office culture at a new job.

The study, which was in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, has suggested that outside the US, display of personal life at workplaces is not seen as unprofessional."Everyone knows it's important to be perceived as professional, but that involves a lot of implicit, unspoken norms that might only be apparent when they're violated. We want to shine a light on what some of those are," Sanchez-Burks said.

However, personal objects are not banned in the office in the US. Minimal use of personal objects is acceptable at workplaces in the country."This norm of keeping work and non-work roles separate is strong, and you will be judged by it," Sanchez-Burks said.

"People are significantly less likely to be asked for a second interview if they violate this norm in a very subtle way. It also shows how these norms perpetuate themselves. These are the gatekeepers of companies, the ones who make the hiring decisions," he added.


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