The clear desk policy is a tried and tested method of keeping offices organised and information secure. Organisations who implement clear desk policies are frequently satisfied with the results and are keen to encourage others to follow their lead.
Increasingly, businesses are struggling to monitor the information that they are responsible for. If your business is in a similar situation you will be happy to know that a clear desk policy is an easy and cost effective way of avoiding problems related with information mismanagement.
The Risks of Information Mismanagement
Before looking at the advantages of a clear desk policy it is worth looking at the risks involved with not using this policy in day-to-day business operations.
Not looking after your information properly could have devastating consequences for your business both financially and otherwise; under the Data Protection Act a business can be fined up to £500,000 for not sufficiently managing its information. On average, a data breach costs a company £2.2 million – so even if you’re the victim of data criminality, you will have to pay the price.
Information mismanagement can also have a slightly less dramatic effect on the day-to-day workings of your office; a report by IDC stated that employees in the U.S use up 2.5 hours a day looking for information and it is likely that a similar figure could be applied to the U.K.
We are all well acquainted with how frustrating and time consuming looking for information can be. The bottom line is by not organising your company’s information correctly you risk not getting the most out of your employees.
Why Clear Desks Benefit Businesses
A clear desk policy is popular with businesses first and foremost because its implementation is easy, time efficient and cost effective. Most of your employees will be familiar with the clear desk policy already and because of its simplicity it should only take a few stern reminders for the policy to become a part of their daily routine.
Having someone responsible for making sure employees are clearing their desks at the end of each day is an effective way of monitoring the application of the policy and serial offenders who continuously ignore the policy can be singled out.
As already mentioned a clear desk policy will encourage document organisation and compliance in your office as workers will be more conscious of the whereabouts of their files if they have store them away each day. A clear desk policy might even encourage employees to favour digital documentation once they become more aware of the amount of paper they use. Creating documents in a digital format is not only environmentally friendly storage but cost effective as it will save your office budget from the expenditures associated with printing.
Crucially a clear desk policy encourages privacy in the workplace. Employees who leave documents scattered out on their desk for all to see are security nightmares. It’s not just official company documents that employees should be wary of; post-it notes plastered all over computers with passwords and usernames on them are just as much of a security risk. For a clear desk policy to be effective it is important that your employees desks are completely empty at the end of each day, that includes mundane office stationary such as post it notes! Employees should also stow away any media devices storing information such as data tapes, USB sticks and CDs preferably into secure, fire proof vaults.
Documents can’t just be stored away at the end of the day in any old place; doing so would defeat the point of the clear desk policy completely. All documents should be stored in either locked cabinets or files that aren’t used often could be transferred to a secure offsite facility which would free up more space.
Surprise visitors in the workplace can prove to be particularly hazardous if the office has taken on the disguise of a landfill site and potential clients in particular are not going to be enthralled if your office is in a state of disarray. With the clear desk policy you can impress your visitors and welcome them into your ordered, stress-free office. The phantom visitor will no longer be such a daunting sight when you’re safe in the knowledge that your employees’ desks are organised and presentable.