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Josh Ablett

Clean Desk Policy - 5 Ways to Improve Your Security

December 15, 2020

An average desk worker keeps 36 hours of work at his/her workspace at any one time and spends about 2.5 hours a day searching for information. This costs the company valuable time and money and may leave precious data and information out for anyone passing by to view.

Many Fortune 500 companies such as Audi, UPS, and Calvin Klein as well as mid-sized and small businesses have already seen the benefits that come with mandating work stations be free of clutter. However, if you are one of the many businesses that have yet to implement a Clean Desk Policy, the tips below may help you on your way to higher security, more efficient employees, and maintaining the trust of your clients.

1. What is a Clean Desk Policy?

A clean desk policy ensures that all important documents, confidential letters, binders, books, etc are removed from a desk and locked away when the items are not in use or an employee leaves his/her workstation. It is one of the top strategies to utilize when trying to reduce the risk of security breaches.

Having a clean desk helps to not only eliminate clutter, but also helps prevent the likelihood that anyone can gain access to your company’s information or the information of your clients.

2. Implementing a Clean Desk Policy.

When implementing a Clean Desk Policy, it is important to get everyone in your company, including senior management, on board. This requires putting the policy in writing, reminding your employees of the policy, and conducting spot checks to ensure the policy is being followed. It is crucial to let all of your employees know how to follow the policy, its importance, and the consequences of disregarding the policy.

3. Making a Clean Desk Policy Work.

Providing employees with the tools they need to make the policy work is crucial. Having lockable storage for employees to store items, a reliable and routine back-up system for keeping electronic documents safe, and designated lockable shred bins will all aid employees in following the policy.

4. Elements of a Clean Desk Policy.

It is important that the rules of a Clean Desk Policy encourage a neat, clutter-free work environment. This means the work area should not contain post-it notes, papers with information like user ID’s, passwords, or account numbers, and should be free of non-essential documents. Loose papers and printed documents, which may contain confidential data, should always be secured in a locked desk until they are needed.

Putting away nonessential items and documents whenever an extended absence is anticipated and securing documents and electronic media at the end of the work day will also help mitigate some of the risks associated with leaving information unprotected.

Access cards and keys should be kept on employees at all times while items such as laptops should be secured to the desk. In the event that an item is lost or stolen, security should be notified immediately.

5. Create a List of Permitted Items.

Creating a list of basic items that are allowed at work stations may help employees maintain a clean space more easily. By knowing what items are allowed on the desk, they may have a better understanding of the policy and be more efficient in their end of the day clean-ups. Distributing a list indicating the allowed items such as phones, network connectivity devices, a pc/laptop, inbox/outbox, pens, staplers, and clear folders, will help to further educate your employees.


Keep your desks clean for improved security.

Want to make sure that you have the right IT security policies?  Want to protect your business from hackers and insiders?  Want to be HIPAA compliant?  Talk with an Adelia Risk consultant to learn more.

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One comment on “Clean Desk Policy - 5 Ways to Improve Your Security”

  1. A clean and organized desk is really essential key to succeed at work. The more you organize it, the comfortable you become and off course, the productive you become too. It makes everything easier.

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