October 13, 2015

Why Every Workplace Needs a Clean Desk Policy

Is there a Clean Desk Policy in your workplace?

By definition, a Clean Desk Policy instructs employees on how to leave their work space when they aren’t there – and even when they are.

While it’s about having an organised desk and workspace, it’s also about protecting sensitive information from prying eyes. Documents, letters, folders, books, and post-it notes that contain confidential information are removed and locked away. Also, computer screens are cleared and locked, mobile devices secured, and access cards and keys not left out in the open.

Here are 9 reasons why every workplace would benefit:
  1. Data breach risk:  An office Clean Desk Policy reduces the risk of costly identity theft, fraud and security breaches. The PwC 2015 Information Security Breaches Survey showed that data breach incidents cost large businesses between £1.5 million and £3 million while they cost small businesses between £75,200 and £310,000. 90% of large organisations and 74% of small businesses in the survey reported having experienced at least one security breach.
  2. Compliance: Privacy laws such as the Data Protection Act require organisations to safeguard confidential information.
  3. Visual hacking: “Visual hacking – aka ‘shoulder surfing’ – is creeping up the security agenda,” said blogger Peter Hartley in a post at techpageone.co.uk. A recent Ponemon study found that in 88% of attempts, a ‘fake’ hacker was able to visually hack sensitive company information.
  4. Employee theft: Leaving sensitive documents on a desk or computer screen can be tempting to dishonest fellow workers. The Information Security Breaches Survey showed that 75% of large organisations and 31% of small businesses suffered staff-related security breaches in the last year.
  5. Other savings: A Clean Desk Policy promotes de-cluttering by digitising information – and that can save money in paper costs.
  6. Office atmosphere: Many employees waste time looking for documents. Tidy work areas support better productivity, according to a study cited in an fm-world.co.uk post. A clean, organised and tidy office overall also makes a better impression on visitors who may be potential clients and business partners.
  7. Stress: A messy desk in the morning causes stress levels to rise, according to research cited in a metro.co.uk story. It’s not only bad for your mindset, commented University College London professor Dr. Tomas Chamorro in the story, but it can harm your relationship with colleagues too.
  8. Culture of security:  A Clean Desk Policy should be one of many safeguarding strategies that come under comprehensive security policies and procedures. Information security should start at the top and filter down through all levels and aspects of the organisation and workplace. On-going employee education is critical.
  9. Secure document disposal: A Clean Desk Policy includes secure disposal of paper and digitised information. Partnering with a reliable document destruction company protects confidential information and reduces the risk of a security breach. The shredding company should provide a secure chain of custody with locked consoles, regularly-scheduled service, on- or off-site shredding, and a Certificate of Destruction after every shred.

Find out how a Shred-all Policy simplifies document handling in the workplace and how partnering with a reliable shredding service partner protects confidential information from falling into the wrong hands.