November 03, 2015

Would You Do This? 6 Ways UK Workplaces Enforce Their Clean Desk Policy

Have you banned messy desks in your workplace?

A Clean Desk Policy helps make your workplace presentable to clients, customers, and your own workforce. More importantly, it protects confidential data from information thieves and reduces the risk of a data breach.

While educating employees about what needs to be done and why is key, here are six ways that some UK companies are enforcing the policy.

1. Hot Desking

An increasing number of organisations including the BBC are using ‘hot-desking’ as their office structure. There are no assigned desks; employees choose their desk on a first-come, first-served basis. Obviously, this only works in an office with a mobile device policy (Choose Your Own Device or Bring Your Own Device). Then, hot desking can be part of the security plan. There are no personal effects on desks, only materials that are needed to do the job. Desks are cleared when employees finish working every day.

2. Nightly Sweep

Vodafone chief Guy Laurence made headlines a few years back with his unconventional and few-rules approach to office culture. Vodafone UK’s campus in Newbury utilised hot desking and promoted an easy-going office atmosphere. But the few rules – including a Clean Desk Policy – that were in place were enforced 100 percent, said Laurence in a story. Everything and anything that was left on desks overnight got incinerated, explained Laurence – even if it was a treasured picture of a wedding or new baby.

3. Random Inspections

A strategy proposed by was a little less hard-line: random weekly checks by the privacy officer at the end of a workday. Any papers, notes, post-its, or any other documents containing sensitive information that remained would be removed for secure shredding. Portable media left on desks such as CDs, floppy disks, or memory sticks, would also be confiscated for secure e-media destruction.

4. Face-to-Face

When the was asked about how to deal with an unorganised and messy employee, the company advised an old school but effective method: to clear up the issue, sit down and have a constructive discussion with the person about the policy.

5. Lose The Clutter

According to a story, managers should encourage employees to scan documents for a more paperless office and desk. (But don’t forget to back-up files). Also, provide a security checklist to simplify cleaning the workspace. For example, if in doubt securely dispose of paper documents by putting them into locked security consoles that have been conveniently located around the office by a document destruction partner. Implement a Shred-all Policy to simplify this process altogether.

6. Just Rewards

Every organisation should clearly communicate consequences of not following the Clean Desk Policy. For example, one security training organisation advised that any employee found to have violated the policy would be subject to disciplinary action and possible contract termination.  

On the other hand, a company might recognise efforts of tidy employees by presenting them with ‘rewards’ such as a gift certificate of some kind.

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