clean desk policy

3 Ways to Implement a Clean Desk Policy When Working From Home

A clean desk policy sounds pretty straight forward. It’s as simple as keeping your desk neat and tidy, right? In a sense, yes—but also no.

It’s actually the difference between ensuring workplace safety and creating trouble for not only yourself, but your job.

While many of us are working at home either temporarily or indefinitely due to COVID-19, it’s a good practice to continue using the clean desk policy when working from home.

Whether you’re at home or in the office, instilling a clean desk policy for yourself can save time and trouble. Here are three tips for implementing a policy, and making sure it stays in place.

What is a Clean Desk Policy?

A clean desk policy is a company’s directive to ensure that all confidential documents are cleared from their workspace at the end of the day and securely stored or placed in shredding bins.

It’s a great way to keep offices clutter-free and tidy as well as protecting secure data and documents.

The University of Cincinnati’s clean desk policy calls for employees to be diligent about storing sensitive and confidential information—whether on paper, storage media, or hardware.

The university’s policy states that employees should lock computers when their desk is unoccupied, and properly shut down at the end of the day.

Passwords, printouts, storage devices, keys, and even whiteboards containing “restricted or controlled documents” must be removed, erased, or placed in a locked drawer or compartment of some sort when not in use.

Restricted or controlled documents can be anything containing personal information, health records, financial data, or even graded papers if you’re a teacher.

What your business considers restricted or controlled documents will vary, but a clean desk policy ensures protection no matter what.

1. Create a System for Storing Documents

Having a records retention schedule is a great way to ensure you won’t build any clutter, especially when working from home.

Certain businesses have to keep records for a set amount of time. Even if this isn’t the case, you should create a system for retaining, storing, and destroying documents.

In your home, this could mean keeping a lockbox or filing cabinet near your desk to store documents. Once a week—or at the end of every workday—be sure to organize the records by category, or any system that fits your recordkeeping.

After a set amount of time (this will depend on how long you need to retain any documents), the documents may need to be moved or destroyed.

Creating a records retention schedule will keep all of that on track so you don’t have to think about it after your home office feels like a never-ending wall of documents.

2. Which Documents are Worth Keeping?

We’ve defined important work documents as anything containing personal information, health records, financial data, or anything relevant to your career.

But what about personal records? What’s worth keeping? Where should you keep them? How long should you keep those?

Important home documents worth keeping could include your passport, annual tax return (And receipts if you’re self-employed or a business owner!), birth certificate, will, social security cards… the list is never-ending.

Again, what you decide to keep is ultimately your choice, but you should keep the longevity of any documents you hold onto in mind.

3. Create a System for Shredding Documents

Disposing of documents may feel scary at first, but it’s necessary to manage your home office. A document destruction policy is just as important as a clean desk policy. Talk to your company to find out their document destruction policy. Should you bring documents into the office once a week or once a month to add to the shredding bin?

If you need help with records keeping, retrieval, and destruction, contact us today. We’ll help you implement a clean desk policy, as well as find you the best option for your home office or business.