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Implement a Clean Desk Policy Today For Better Security and More

Posted January 12, 2017 by Lynn Brown



Not all employees in a workplace think a Clean Desk Policy is a good idea.

Employees whose jobs involve some aspect of creativity or creative thinking point to research that shows being overly focused on neatness and order can have a stifling effect on creativity.

Security personnel, on the other hand, point to statistics that show the risk of an information breach and the amount of damage it can do just keep skyrocketing - and say a Clean Desk Policy can help.

While a secure work space has to take precedence, the good news is that a Clean Desk Policy can work to everyone’s benefit in an organization. 

Also called a Clear Desk Policy, it directs employees to keep their desks free of clutter and especially sensitive business documents, notes, post-its, etc. When leaving for the day, computers must be powered down and password protected, and documents and removable media removed and securely stored.

Here’s how this kind of secure work space benefits all employees:    

Security: A Clean Desk Policy protects confidential information from being seen and taken by insider fraudsters and other criminals in the office. That reduces the risk of information theft, fraud, and a security breach. The policy complies with basic privacy principles too.

Human Resources: Clearing clutter is an information management strategy that increases productivity. According to an Adeliarisk.com post, an average desk worker keeps 36 hours of work at the workspace at any one time. That’s distracting, and employees can spend up to about 2.5 hours a day searching for information.

Creative Thinkers: A Clean Desk Policy is part of an evolving workplace that includes a growing mobile workforce, less defined physical boundaries, and flex-time options. ‘Hot desking’, a new way of organizing the office, relies on a Clean Desk Policy. Instead of everyone having their own desk, there’s an open workspace with empty desks and employees sit where they like. Creative thinkers who want a less orderly work space can choose flex-time hours – and work in their home office.

Management: Clearing desks at five o’clock is the key to this policy, but employees are also encouraged to be conscious of information security all day long. If they wander away from their desk for a meeting, they’re instructed to remove confidential information from sight. This helps to increase employees’ awareness of security, according to the education organization SANS Institute. It supports a Culture of Security, which all organizations are encouraged to implement. A Clean Desk Policy also promotes a positive company reputation. Visitors to the workplace see that everything is tidy, which sends the message that the company is organized and good at what it does too.

Environment: A Clean Desk Policy aligns with green office strategies. It encourages digital versions of documents, which reduces paper use. Digital documents are easier to find and not physically accessible to insider fraudsters and other information thieves. The policy also supports a document destruction program with a professional company that has a chain of custody including locked consoles and on- or off-site secure shredding services.

Learn more about how a document destruction partner protects confidential information and the environment at the same time.


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