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What is a clean desk policy and why is it so important for your company?

Gina Schumacher

The concept of desk sharing is becoming increasingly important in a working world characterized by flexibility. However, sharing workplaces also poses specific challenges, in particular with regard to data security and workplace organisation.

One measure to address these challenges is to implement a clean desk policy. In this article, we'll look at the importance of this policy, explain its successful implementation, and show how it creates a productive and safe work environment.

What is a Clean Desk Policy?

A clean desk to show how important a clean desk policy is.

The name says it all — but a Clean Desk Policy is much more than just a guideline that states that desks in your company should be clean. The term is a systematic approach to ensure the security of sensitive data and the confidentiality of business-critical information.

Since gaps in data security are often caused by physical or digital recording of information happens, the implementation of a clean desk policy aims to effectively close exactly these gaps. Such a policy, for example, sets rules for handling electronic devices such as desktop PCs, notebooks and external storage media. But physical aspects such as cabinets, drawers and desks should also be included in a successful clean desk policy.

Essentially, this guideline therefore requires employees to clean up their workplaces after completing their work (both digitally and analogously), to securely store sensitive documents and to delete personal data. By implementing a clean desk policy, your teams know exactly what is expected of them. And because you can set the Clean Desk Policy guidelines individually, ensure that the policy is tailored to your organisation's needs.

When is a clean desk policy essential?

By ensuring that no sensitive information is left unprotected on desks or shared PCs, your organisation and employees significantly reduce the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access. Plus, a tidy workplace helps your team focus better, increase productivity, and reduce stress—killing two birds with one stone.

When it comes to the clean desk policy, most people think of a regulation for workplaces in a company, particularly in traditional office environments. However, this is not entirely correct, because today many people work from their home office or from mobile locations — working models that raise awareness of data protection and virtual security require.

Compliance with a clean desk policy is also required with desk sharing of great importance, as several people use the same desk. A clear and consistent guideline for maintaining cleanliness, order and data security at shared workplaces is essential to ensure a pleasant working environment and increase efficiency in desk sharing.

However, a clean desk policy not only enables your company to protect confidential information and comply with data protection regulations, but also to avoid conflicts among employees caused by disorder or loss of work materials.

In principle, whenever your employees deal with customer data or sensitive documents or share workplaces, implementing a clean desk policy is essential.

What rules and best practices should be included in a clean desk policy?

But what could such a policy look like and which components are typically included in a clean desk policy?

A clean desk policy first defines the scope — this should cover the entire workplace, including desks, filing cabinets, and digital work environments. In this guideline, you set individual rules for the organisation of workplaces, such as...

  • How desks must be tidy at the end of the working day
  • that computers must be locked when leaving the workplace
  • Passwords must not be written down
  • No sensitive documents are allowed to lie around

Furthermore, the policy often includes provisions for the secure storage of sensitive documents and data, such as the use of lockable cabinets or instructions to securely delete or store digital files in encrypted form.

An effective clean desk policy checklist

A good example of the benefits of a clean desk policy.

A clean desk policy in your company should include the following aspects:

  • Definition of scope
  • Workplace organisation regulations
  • Storing sensitive documents
  • Workplace data security
  • Protecting digital information

How can a clean desk policy be successfully implemented?

Many companies are aware of the importance of a clean desk policy, yet you may be wondering how you can successfully implement such a policy in your work environment. You should consider the following steps when implementing a clean desk policy in your organisation:

  1. Analysis of the current situation: First, review the current state of workplaces and identify areas that need improvement. Gather feedback from your employees and identify potential risks associated with a cluttered workplace.
  2. Development of clear guidelines: Create clear and understandable guidelines as a team to implement your own clean desk policy. Define which objects are allowed in the workplace, how documents should be stored, and what measures must be taken to keep the desk clean both physically and digitally.
  3. Communication and training: Inform your teams about the new clean desk policy and the associated expectations. Provide training and informational materials to ensure that all employees understand why the policy is important and how it should be implemented.
  4. Provision of resources: Make sure your employees have the resources they need to successfully implement the clean desk policy. These can include lockable cabinets and paper shredders to securely store documents and dispose of them effectively.
  5. Monitoring and enforcement: However, the implementation is not enough yet. Regularly monitor compliance with your policies and take action to correct violations as needed. Use regular inspections for this, ask for the feedback from your employees and, where appropriate, provide incentives to comply with the policy.

Conclusion

Clean desk policies are essential guidelines — and not just for companies that practice desk sharing, but for all companies that deal with confidential data. On the one hand, this guideline helps to ensure the security of sensitive information and, on the other hand, also increases efficiency and workplace productivity.

With clear guidelines for the organisation and cleanliness of the workplace, clean desk policies also help you create a safe working environment in which your employees feel comfortable and productive. Therefore, implementing a clean desk policy is not just a recommended measure, but a simple yet important investment in the success and data security of your company.

If you have any questions about your Clean Desk Policy or would like to learn more about Desk Sharing, our team from Flexopus - The Desk Sharing Solution will be happy to help.

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Markus Merkle
Sales manager