By definition, a clean desk policy outlines how employees should leave their working space when they aren't there. Sensitive information must be protected at all times, from anyone who may be passing by, including other employees, cleaners, and visitors to the office.
All papers including those with sensitive information, as well as non-essential documents and even post-it notes should be cleared off desks. These policies also pertain to information on computer screens.
Here are the important aspects of implementing a clean desk policy:
- Put your policy in writing, and ensure that every employee has a copy.
- Implement a buy-in at the executive level. Ensure that your senior team follows and encourages other to follow the policy.
- Explain exactly what you expect from employees. For example, when an employee leaves their desk, all papers must be filed or locked up and the computer must be switched to the locked password screen.
- Make it part of the workday. Suggest to employees that they start their day by organizing any and all papers they will need to complete their immediate work. If an employee must go to a meeting, or leave their desk for any reason, a quick glance to ensure everything is secured and there is no information on their desk or computer screen will suffice. Always leave a clear, clean desk when leaving at the end of the day.
- Provide your employees with clean desk tools. Ensure that desks have lockable drawers, or small lockable filing cabinets so employees can secure any printed documents with sensitive information.
- Encourage electronic over paper documents, whenever possible. Routinely back up your servers to ensure that no information is lost.
- Make it easy for employees to keep their desks clean by partnering with a document shredding company for secure document disposal. Locked consoles should be placed in central locations throughout the office and documents should be shredded regularly. Remind employees to never place sensitive documents in the garbage or recycling bin.
- Provide constant friendly reminder. For example, add a simple tagline to email signatures such as "Please Consider The Environment Before Printing This E-mail'.
- Appoint one or more employees as 'office monitors' to check offices at the end of the day. There should be consequences for non-compliance.
Effectively, a clean desk policy is one of the simplest ways to protect sensitive information and to reduce the risk of a data breach or identity theft.
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