Despite many businesses asking employees to return to the office over the past couple of years, the topic is still making headlines as owners and management try to balance work demands with staff needs. Hybrid working and hot desking are now popular, with three quarters of UK businesses offering it (according to CIPD), which is why GTSE has shared its advice on clear desk policies and their increasing importance.
A clear desk policy or CDP, is an initiative where employers and their workers agree that at the end of each day all desks much be left “clear”. That is, clear of all paper or digital documentation, personal items and notes. The idea behind such policies being to reduce business risk and create a safe working environment.
Tom Armenante, Director at GTSE cable ties discusses the benefits of CDPs further, citing seven advantages for businesses.
1. Better compliance with GDPR
One of the key drivers for CDPs is the need for better data protection, in line with GDPR best practice. By clearing away all documents, notes and information left on desks at the end of the day, there is less chance that sensitive information will fall in to the wrong hands. It’s not just employees who have access to your office space, often there will be visiting clients, interviewees, tradespeople and of course cleaners. Depending on the nature of your business, poor data security could pose a huge risk to you, your clients and ultimately your financial success.
2. Creates a professional atmosphere
Walking into a clear workspace creates a great first impression for anyone who works or visits the building. Staff, clients and other stakeholders may perceive an office which is free from clutter as being more organised, professional and create a sense of pride in the workspace.
3. Modernises businesses
Going digital by removing the amount of paper documentation in your business or even going fully paperless has multiple benefits, helping to modernise processes. Digital documentation allows for better collaboration internally and with other stakeholders too, but particularly with remote and hybrid teams.
Paperless files can also make finding the right document more efficient, giving your employees quicker access to files, allowing them to spend time working on more profitable tasks. Cloud based backups also gives more security should physical copies or equipment be lost or damaged.
In addition, there will be a less need for physical storage space in the office, less time spent shredding and less waste for recycling and landfill. Making it better for the environment too.
4. Encourages hot desking and collaboration
In addition to modernising collaborative processes, a clear desk policy can encourage hot desking as employees are less tied to a specific seat in the office for document access or personal items. Hot desking can greatly improve team cohesion and culture in many respects. It can help foster inclusivity, adaptability and creativity amongst your teams.
5. Improved health and safety
According to HSE, businesses must create a safe place of work for their employees and the public. A workspace which is clear of belongings and documentation provides a safer working environment by removing hazards which could harm employees. This not only includes reduced risk of fires but, the removal of slip and trip hazards too.
Additionally, clearer workspaces will undoubtedly have fewer germs as they can be cleaned more easily. In turn this can help keep your workforce healthy and in work.
6. Keep belongings safe
As your business grows, there will be an increasing number of people coming in and out of the space. This makes it easier to lose personal belongings and work equipment by misplacing them, by other employees moving them, borrowing or even being taken intentionally. A CDP makes these things less likely, placing more responsibility on individuals to look after their own possessions.
The phrase ‘tidy house, tidy mind’ is popular for a reason and the same logic can be applied to workspaces. One study suggests that workers are able to work for on average 7.5 minutes longer before losing focus when they have a clean desk, increasing productivity and persistence by 84 per cent.
In addition to work-based benefits, the individual is likely to have greater mental stability, better sleep, reduced stress and are even more likely to make healthier choices when it comes to food.
Advising on how to implement a clear desk policy, expert Armenante said: “Clear desk policies can have a real and positive impact for businesses. With the current trend towards hybrid workspaces and hot desking, it’s no wonder we’re seeing workplaces implement such policies.
“Whether overseen by an office manager, CEO, operations department, security team or HR, businesses can easily and affordably make this change. Key ways to get started could be moving business documentation online, acquiring safe storage for private documents and personal belongings and importantly, ensure that loose wires are kept tidy using cable ties, baskets or sleeves.”