So, what is a ‘clear desk policy‘?
A clear desk policy directs all of your employees to clear their desks at the end of each day. This not only includes documents and notes, but also post-its, businesses cards, coffee cups, and removable media (CDs, memory sticks).
But why should we implement this? What are the benefits?
* It saves time and money!
According to a recent report, a typical employee in your company spends 2.5 hours a day searching for information. Assuming the knowledge workers in your company earn $80,000 a year, a 1000-person company loses approximately $2.5 million dollars a year from the inability to locate and retrieve information.
In addition, a clear desk policy will encourage employees to use digital versions of documents, significantly reducing your organization’s costs of paper, ink toner, and printer maintenance.
* First impressions – good impressions…!
Who knows who and when someone will visit your office. A clean and tidy workspace makes your company look efficient and presentable to anyone who decides to visit!
* Discourages those prying eyes!!
Employees usually leave sensitive information on their desk. Post-it notes are usually the worst culprit, containing names, phone numbers, and even user names and passwords visible – in plain view. These habits encourage dishonest employees, cleaning crews, and maintenance staff to view information they should not have access to.
* Reduces stress…
When your employees are organised they can spend more time concentrating on work rather than stressing out because they can’t find a report due in the next 10 minutes. A place for everything and everything in its place.
Hot desking works if some of your staff are travelling a lot, therefore they don’t really require a permanent desk. If someone books a desk for a certain period, then the next person need to find the space in the same condition. The clear desk policy as part of an agile workspace can save a company around 20% of their current office space, and within a large company can produce savings into the millions. There are issues with the clear desk policy and agile workspaces. People don’t feel part of a team, or valuable enough to warrant a desk. This can be overcome by providing ‘other spaces’ including, focus rooms, personal and work storage, break – out spaces etc.
So you like the idea… how do you put this in place?
Put it in writing
A clear desk policy should be in writing and communicated to all employees, especially during introductory and refresher training. Consequences for failure to comply should be serious yet practical, especially if your company works with sensitive information. Have all employees sign the document for approval.
You can’t implement a clear desk policy if you have nowhere for employees to put their documents. Consider purchasing small, lockable storage boxes for employees that fit under their desk. Or have lockers for each employee.
Encourage electronic documents
Have employees work with electronic documents whenever possible. Without the need to print and work with physical papers, your employees will always have a clear desk whenever they log out of their computers.
Securely get rid of documents / rubbish
Your employees should never throw any work-related documents into the bin. Once rubbish leaves your company’s doors, it becomes public property. Nothing can ruin your company quicker than careless employees throwing sensitive information into a rubbish bin. Use a secure shredding service to ensure all documents are disposed of securely.
Perform routine backups
If you discourage employees from using physical documents, make sure your company has a dependable backup routine in place. Employees need to know that their documents will be safe in the event of a power loss or hard-drive crash.
A clear desk policy needs to be taken seriously — especially with all levels of management. If your employees see that upper management does not have to abide by the policy, they will soon lose faith.
The fact that upper management usually handles more sensitive documents should reinforce the need for a clear desk policy for all employees regardless of their status within the company.
Implementing a clear desk policy and having a nonchalant attitude towards enforcement will render your policy useless.
Let me know your thoughts! Love it or hate it?
When it rains, look for rainbows