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Clean Desk Policy Definition: What You Should Know

Posted by Versare on Sep 8th 2020

How to Implement a Clean Desk Policy

The easiest way to become compliant with security and privacy principles, increase productivity, and have an excellent-looking office is to start a Clean Desk Policy (CDP). It’s a corporate directive that specifies little details like when employees should leave the office as well as how employees should leave their workspace. Most CDPs require all employees to have a clean desk from all clutter and papers at the end of the day.

This policy defines the minimum requirements for successfully maintaining a "clean desk." Implementing a clear desk policy is essential since documents on employees’ tables usually contain sensitive information and company shared intellectual property.

Clean Desk Policy Definition

CDP should be part of every company’s security strategy since it mandates that employees need to clear their office desks at the end of each working day. Clean desk best practices include keeping written notes safely, making sure that removable media is locked away, and securely disposing of Post It notes.

Keeping work desks clear of clutter is more about preventing sensitive information theft than making your office desk look smart. Sometimes a carelessly left paper note can contain sensitive information like passwords, and it's very important to define strict rules about information safety. Implementing CDP is one of the best strategies for preventing or reducing the risk of unwanted security breaches at the workplace.

Benefits of a Clean Desk Policy

From security to savings, a clean desk policy brings many benefits to any company that incorporates it. Some of the most obvious benefits include:

Going Green and Saving Money

This workspace policy encourages the use of digital documents instead of hard copies. The average North American’s use of paper costs our environment around seven trees each year. Additionally, using digital documents will cut down on office costs as the average U.S company spends over $120 billion each year on printing.

Keeping Sensitive Information Under Control

The most significant benefit of having a clean desk policy is that you’ll control and prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. For example, locking away items like USB keys each day will prevent data theft. Meeting rooms should be cleared out after each meeting, and printers should be checked and emptied at the end of each workday.

Looking Professional and Neat

Having a clean desk policy will result in making your office space clutter-free. A neat office looks professional and promotes better results in employees, filling the space with positive energy.

How to Create a Clean Desk Policy

Implementing a clean desk policy shouldn't be hard. Here are some pointers on making the entire process as easy and efficient as possible:

Put It in Writing

Create a clean desk policy template for all your employees to sign. If employees fail to comply, consequences should be serious, but practical.

Add a Reminder to Email Signatures

Use a clean desk policy email method. You’ve probably seen email signatures reminding readers to reconsider printing emails to help save the environment. In case your company uses email signatures, add a clean desk policy reminder at the bottom.

Lockable Storage

Purchasing small, lockable storage boxes that can fit under employees’ desks will provide them with a place where they can safely put away sensitive documents.

Encourage Electronic Documents

Employees should work with electronic documents. Working with physical papers makes a lot of mess, and using digital documents is a perfect tidy desk policy example.

How to Enforce a Clean Desk Policy

Implementing a clean desk policy may require you to be strict about it until your employees get used to the processes. Random checks combined with upper management support have provided solid results.

Random Checks

Appoint someone to conduct random weekly checks to see if everyone’s following protocols. All papers, post-its, notes, and other documents containing sensitive information must be destroyed or shredded immediately. Removable media like USB memory sticks, CDs, and others should be temporarily confiscated.

Upper Management Support

All levels of management need to take CDP seriously. If your employees see that higher management doesn’t abide CDP, they’ll lose faith in it.

Upper management usually handles a lot of sensitive documents, and that’s why CDP should be reinforced for everyone working at the company regardless of how high or low their status within the organization is.

Clean Desk Policy Template and Examples

Each company has its own clean desk policy template, and is free to add specific requirements for their workspace. SANS institute has published their Clean Desk Policy template to define the minimum requirements for maintaining a safe and clean desk, so companies can use it as a starting point.

Take a look of this rough example of a clean desk policy within a company based on the official SANS clean desk policy:

[Company Name] is committed to implementing new security policies and practices. We’ve implemented a Clean Desk Policy to increase overall physical security at all [Company Name] locations. This policy ensures that all sensitive materials and confidential information are safely stored away and out of sight when not in use.

Policy

5.Policy

5.1 Employees must ensure that all confidential/sensitive information in electronic or hardcopy form is safely secured in their work area at the end of the workday or when they’re expected to be away from office for a more extended period.

5.2 Computer workstations must be locked when the workspace is vacant.

5.3 File cabinets containing sensitive or restricted information must be closed and locked when not attended or when not in use.

Encourage your employees to abide by this CDP since it’ll benefit them and the rest of your organization. Contact Versare or go through our collection of office dividers, panels, and cubicles to enhance the safety of your office while keeping it looking tidy and professional. Browse our collection and start improving your office space.