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6 Strategies for Successfully Working Under a Clear-Desk Policy

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

A ‘clear-desk’ policy isn’t to create aesthetic tidiness. Rather, it’s to maintain confidentiality of information.

In the modern enterprise, any number of different organizations work under the same roof, and workers from different organizations have easy access to your desk – especially ‘after hours’ when there is nobody around to prevent sensitive data falling into wrong hands. But it can be a pain in the butt. Here are six strategies for keeping within the policy, without it becoming a huge burden.

  1. Don’t print. Do you really need to print out a document to read it? Before you hit send-to-printer, think again about whether you can read the document on-screen just as well.
  2. Destroy after printing. If you really must print a document to read it, then toss it into a secure disposal bin that you might find close to your desk. Theyre’ the big trashcans with a slot to slide your paperwork into. If you don’t have these in your office, then shred the document instead. If you don’t have a secure disposal facility, then don’t print.
  3. Set aside a lockable drawer for ‘current’ printed documents. Keep a drawer especially for documents that are in current use, and then lock it when you leave your desk. Setting a drawer just for this purpose means that you can dip into it without having to search through too many documents. Once a document become ‘archive’ – then dispose of it securely if you have an electronic copy.
  4. Use a Folder. For current documents that you need constant access to, purchase a light folder to keep them in as you move around, and take this home with you. Or, lock it in your drawer. Avoid taking home documents marked as ‘confidential’ in case you lose them in transit. Your organization may have Information Security Policy that prevents you from doing this anyway. Once a document becomes ‘archive’, toss it into secure disposal if you have an electronic copy.
  5. Request electronic ‘soft copies’. If you’re given a printed document, ask the provider if they can send you a soft copy so you can retain the document securely, and ask them to send documents electronically in the future. Then you can destroy the paper copy.
  6. Set aside 60 seconds. Just one minute of your day, dedicated to archiving or disposing of printed documents, will save you more time later and you will reduce your risk of breaching the Clear-Desk Policy – and Information Security Policy.

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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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