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Picture this – you have just come back to the office from lunch with a friend, and you realise you have left your briefcase in the restaurant. In that briefcase were some documents about your job role, a few contracts ready to be signed in your afternoon meetings and a USB stick containing customer data. Are you panicking yet? Most people would be. But the staggering thing is that most people also have no problem leaving such documents on their desk, in open view of everyone who comes through the office. While you might trust your co-workers not to use this data for untrustworthy of fraudulent reasons, do you trust the office cleaners, new customers visiting the office or suppliers coming through in the same way? This security loophole is a very real concern for a lot of businesses, and can sometimes be a struggle to find a solution for. Thankfully, the easiest way to protect your business from theft or fraud due to stolen documents is to not leave them around so easily available. So this year, why not try implementing a ‘clean desk’ policy, and watch your security tighten up and your employee productivity soar.


Keep A Written Copy 

A common problem with implementing new policies in the workplace is getting people to adopt them. Studies have found that typically staff uptake tallies with understanding of the policy, and employees who didn’t understand the policies to begin with didn’t tend to stick to them or try to learn what they meant. To keep everyone compliant with a new policy, make a written document about the policy in easy, accessible form and display it in common and working areas. This can be accompanied with a ‘clean desk do’s and don’ts’ to help everyone understand how they can get behind the policy. Reinforce this by constantly reminding employees of the policy and what they can do to help. For example, have all employees sign a copy of the policy, post signs or posters around the office, and attach a line to your email signature such as ‘please keep your workspace tidy and protect all sensitive information at all time’


Ensure All Staff Are On Board 

Most businesses that implement a clean desk policy do so for security and data protection reasons. Showing that the very top levels of the organisation, right up to the CEO are behind this policy will help boost performance throughout the company. This is because the executives are showing a commitment to preventing and detecting fraudulent or unethical behaviour, and this attitude has a trickle down effect through the rest of the organisation.


Support Your Staff 

Make sure the psychical workspaces in your office are arranged so that no one can see another’s computer screen easily, and provide each employee with a secure storage facility for documents or electronics. This could be as simple as lockable drawers on desks so that files being worked on are not left on desks, or designating a secure locker for documents and data to be destroyed.  Try combining this with a paperless initiative, encouraging employees not to print documents unless they have to, reducing the risk of documents being left unattended.


Implement A Document Management And Destruction Policy

To ensure that employees are serious about keeping your company data secure, start adding accountability into the equation. Designate each piece of confidential data an ‘owner’ who is responsible for it’s processing and storage. This could be the sales person who made the deal, or the person taking the minutes of company meetings is responsible for ensuring meeting rooms are clear of notes, flip charts or other documents. To go along with this, an appropriate document destruction policy is essential. Start to embed the need for secure disposal of documents into every day operations within the business. Partner with a secure shredding facility who can make this process as easy as possible by providing secure lockers and consoles for your documents, electronics and hard drives and take them away to be destroyed regularly.


Above all, make sure that you have figured out a realistic way to enforce your new clean desk policy. A good way to do this would be instigating nightly checks for the last person to leave the office, and issue notes to those who aren’t following the policy. It will be easier for some people to maintain a clean desk policy than others, so it’s important to be supportive and help your employees understand why it’s such an important policy to follow. And if you need a trusted shredding partner who can help identify any security weaknesses and offer an affordable solution, get in touch today for your free consultation.