January 12, 2016

6 Sure-Fire Ways to Enforce A Clean Desk Policy

Is your office considering ‘hot desking’, where employees don’t have permanently assigned desks or cubicles? Instead, they move around to different parts of the office during the day... and change desks and workspaces as they do.  As a result, desks have to be kept clear, and workers are less likely to hold onto clutter.

Hot desking is a great way to enforce a Clean Desk Policy – because the two go hand-in-hand.

Clean Desk Policy security requires employees to keep working surfaces clear of confidential (and personal) materials such as papers, notes, post-its, or any other documents containing sensitive information. Desktop screens should be powered down and password protected. Removable media, such as CDs, floppy disks, or memory sticks should be removed or locked away as well.

A Clean Desk Policy creates a positive company reputation and image for visitors but more importantly, it helps to reduce the risk of a physical data breach and visual hacking.

Clearing desks at five o'clock is important but employees are asked to be conscious of information security throughout their workday too.

Here are other ways to enforce a Clean Desk Policy in your workplace:

Leadership: Upper management has to be involved with policy directives coming from the C-suite level. Since upper management usually handles the most sensitive documents, all executives should abide to the policy in every way.  

Constant Reminders: A Clean Desk Policy checklist should include workplace reminders that encourage adherence. Post memos about the policy online and in areas where employees gather such as the lunchroom. Put a reminder line in the signature block of corporate emails. Partner with a document destruction company so that locked security consoles are conveniently placed throughout the office for documents that are no longer needed. 

Official Enforcement Policy: Post a copy of the policy on the company’s website. Consider assigning someone to make random evening checks to make sure desks are clean and cleared – be sure to advise employees that there will be surprise checks. An online community board suggested that employees who do not comply should be warned in writing that they are not following the policy. Consider disciplinary actions as well such as advising HR. On the other hand, some companies might want to give rewards of some kind to employees who adhere to the policy.

Confiscate Material: One visitor to the community board suggested confiscating unsecured materials left on desks such as unlocked laptops and paper documents during the random checks. “The only way to get materials back was to have the employees' manager explain in person what he/she was going to do to prevent it from occurring again.”

Paperless OfficeEncourage paperless office strategies to help reduce mess and clutter. For example, share files without printing them. Run office finances through the web. Use online services for conducting surveys and setting up meetings. Scan documents and send them around as PDFs. Cutting down the amount of paperwork in the office will make it easier for employees to keep their desks clean.

Keeping a clean desk really does boost productivity, improve legislative compliance, and reduce the risk of having a data breach.