The Benefits of a Clean Desk Policy
What is a clean desk policy?
A clean desk policy requires that all employees must clear their desks at the end of each working day. This does not only include documents and notes but also business cards, post it notes and any removable media.
Having this policy will help your business cut down the risk of information theft, fraud and security breach as a result of sensitive information being left unattended and visible in plain view.
Save Time and Money
Reduce your company’s cost of paper, ink and printer maintenance bill significantly as having a clean desk policy encourages employees to use digital versions of documents. Save time having electronic versions of files as rummaging through old files of paper can also take a significant amount of time.
First Impressions Last
You can never tell when and where visitors (and auditors) will visit your office. A clean and tidy desk will make your business look efficient and presentable to everyone that walks in for a visit.
Easy ISO Compliance
A clean desk policy is not only ISO 27001/17799 compliant, it also complies with basic privacy principles. UK’s Data Protection Act requires organisations in the UK to ensure that personal information is kept secure.
Discourages Prying Eyes
Many employees leave important and sensitive information on their desk. Notepads and post it notes are the worst culprits as it usually contains names, phone numbers and even username and passwords visible in plain view. Having the policy discourages employees and other people to view information they should not have access to.
Reduce Employee Stress
Having a clean desk policy avoids situations where an employee stresses out as he/she cannot find that piece of folder containing presentation documents required in 10 minutes. They can also concentrate on being more productive rather than getting stressed because of a messy desk.
Implementing a Clean Desk Policy
Now that we have convinced you that you need this in your business, we will help you to implement it too!
Put it in Writing
Any new policy should be communicated in writing to all employees especially for refresher training sessions and new starter trainings. Penalties for non-compliance should be serious and practical especially if your business deals with very sensitive information. Make sure all employees put in writing that they will comply with the policy.
Add a reminder to emails
Add a reminder to your employees email signature. Something along the lines of “Please think of the environment before printing this email.” Adding this to the bottom of signatures won’t hurt and does not cost anything.
This policy will be impossible to implement if employees do not have anywhere to put away printed documents in. Consider giving each person a small lockable pedestal that fits under their desks to store their own personal belongings in.
Encourage Electronic Documents
Whenever possible, have employees work with electronic documents. Again, this will reduce your printer maintenance bill and at the end of the day, employees will always have a clear desk after logging out of their computers.
Get Rid of Documents Securely
Constantly remind (nag if you have to!) employees that they should NEVER throw away work-related documents into the bin. Once it leaves your company’s doors, you have no control what happens to it. You don’t want your company’s reputation getting ruined because of a piece of paper with important information ending up the waste bin! Follow information governance laws to ensure documents are disposed of correctly.
Enforcing a Clean Desk Policy
Implementing a clean desk policy and keeping your fingers crossed that employees stick to it is just rendering your policy useless.
Do Random Checks
Assign someone to do a random weekly check at the end of a random working day. Have an audit check list if you have to.
Upper Management Support
Managers should set an example to everyone. Employees will lose interest if they see that upper management does not support the clean desk policy. Upper management are the people who usually handles the most sensitive and important information, the need for them to follow the policy is even higher regardless of their status in the company.