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What is a Clean Desk Policy?

It’s a common situation in millions of offices around the world: documents clogging up filing cabinets, cupboards, and desks. Every few months, decluttering provides a solution, but rather than waiting for it to become a problem, why not adopt a proactive (rather than reactive) approach?

This is where a clean desk policy comes into play. Quite literally meaning: a policy that helps employees keep their desks clean, to reduce the likelihood of confidential documents building up and being left lying around in plain sight – so they’re less likely to fall into the wrong hands.But of course, with hybrid working arrangements expected to remain post-pandemic world, establishing a clean desk policy becomes more complex – with employees freely travelling between home and office environments, often with confidential documents in tow.

Below, we explore some of the key steps to introduce a clean desk policy – in both office and home environments. Complete with a look at its major benefits for businesses, and a checklist to make sure guidance is adhered to.

What Are the Benefits of a Clean Desk Policy?

First and foremost, a clean desk policy helps to protect your personal information. In every office, there’s a need to handle confidential documents – so by ensuring they’re not left carelessly lying around, this helps to reduce the risk of them being misplaced or falling into the wrong hands.

But beyond simply keeping confidential information confidential, a clean desk policy can also encourage better organisation and productivity for your employees and provide peace of mind for your customers.

Ultimately, when everyone’s desk is clean and all areas of the company are free from clutter, your office space looks attractive, professional, and efficient. Employees feel more in control in a well-organised environment and your customers will be left with a good impression of your company.

How to Establish a Clean Desk Policy?

For a deeper dive into establishing a clean desk policy, our guide contains all the information you need to make it a success. Below, however, we’ve listed a convenient bite-sized version to help you get started.

  • Put it in writing: communicate to all employees how to follow the policy and why it’s important.
  • Start at the top: if your leaders don’t follow the policy, why should the rest of your employees?
  • Provide lockable storage: employees must be able to securely store any confidential documents.
  • Regular reminders: displaying posters around the office can remind employees to follow the policy.
  • Designate a monitor: keeping a friendly eye on things and nudging (when needed) helps routines.
  • Reward employees: providing incentives for those following a clean desk policy will make it stick.

How to Support a Remote Clean Desk Policy?

Establishing a clean desk policy in the office is one thing. But how can this possibly be achieved when employees are working remotely? Of course, this becomes more difficult, but trusting your employees is key – with a little support from these steps:

  • Educate employees on what constitutes confidential data and best practices to keep it secure.
  • Prepare a clear set of guidelines for handling, storing, and destroying confidential documents off-site.
  • Encourage employees who work from home to consider putting in place a lockable storage box.
  • Ensure any paper documents are returned to the office, for secure storage or secure destruction.

Remember the 3 Ps: Plan, Protect & Pick Up

Plan first thing in the morning: keep just the things you need for your workday on your desk. Start each day with a few minutes of planning so that you can organise the documents you need for immediate work. File all other folders and documents.

Protect information when you leave your desk. Before leaving, have a quick check to see if there’s sensitive information lying around and place it inside a folder or off your desktop. For additional security, switch on your computer’s password-protected screen saver.

Pick up at the end of the day. When you finish work, don’t leave documents on your desk. File documents or lock them up. Leaving your desk clean in the evening also means it’ll be clean in the morning, helping you to be organised and productive from the get go.

Infomation sourced from Shred -it, a Stericycle Solution for a clean desk solution