Clean office spaces

Clear Desk Policy: Our Guide

15 November 2023

Clear Desk Policy: Our Guide

Is a clear desk policy the secret to a healthier, happier office?


We’re here to explore whether it’s just a tidiness trend, or actually a game-changer for office space planning, security and staff satisfaction. But what is a clear desk policy?


Also known as a clean desk policy, it means ensuring your workers remove everything from their desks daily. That’s notebooks and printed documents but also, technology such as laptops and USB sticks.


It also means keeping desks as clutter-free as possible in general – let’s be honest, tons of documents, notes and printouts can really stack up in one day, right? A clean desk policy is all about making sure your employees either dispose of or file these away correctly.


Also, with potential fines rising to 4% of company revenue or €20m – whichever is higher – for breaching GDPR, a clear desk policy can play a key part in your data protection strategy.


It’s a good idea to pair this with a clear screen policy too – basically, staff should lock their screen each time they’re not at their computer and turn it off when not in use.


Clear desk policy: Cons


We get it – the last thing you want is to make your team feel like they’re under a microscope or losing their sense of freedom. 


A clear desk policy may not be right for every office. These are some of the common staff complaints about adopting it:


  • Unempowering: Several studies suggest that empowered workers are happier. When there are rules about what employees can and can’t have on their desks, it might feel like someone’s putting the brakes on their independence.
  • Inflexible: A blanket clear desk policy without staff buy-in can come across as a rigid way of working. Some employees are used to the idea of having their desk set out a certain way, partially relying on this layout to work more creatively or efficiently. Coincidently, in flexible workspaces where there are different companies in the same office, a clear desk policy is much more common.
  • Time-consuming: Taking everything you need for work out of a locker in the morning and putting it back again in the evening, each day of the week, takes a while to get used to. It can cut into staff time and add up over the days, particularly if the lockers are far away from the desks. But some argue that a tidier desk saves time usually spent hunting for documents.
  • Over-the-top? Some may think this initiative is a little overboard and prefer that time be spent investing in other tasks. When you’re the last one out and first one in the next day, it can feel like a waste of time to put everything away in the evening just to take it out again the next morning.


However, as we’ll see shortly, it’s critical to make sure everyone has a clear idea about the policy’s significance from a security perspective.


Clear desk policy: Pros


Let’s look at why a clear desk policy is the subtle star you’ll struggle to do without in the office:


  • Compliance: Implementing a clear desk policy helps with GDPR compliance and other security standards such as ISO 27001. It ensures the secure storage of sensitive documents, reduces the risk of unauthorised access and demonstrates a commitment to safeguarding any personal information.
  • Reducing waste: Less paper means less waste and also, lower resource consumption. This is an example where keeping the office clean is a win-win for both the earth and your profits. This eco-friendly approach aligns with sustainable practices, contributing to environmentally conscious workplaces and green offices for businesses.
  • Professional image: Keen to impress clients and other visitors? Of course you are! An immaculate office helps convey to them that you have the very highest standards of professionalism. In this way, your office becomes a mirror – it reflects your firm’s dedication to excellence.
  • Protecting belongings: No more valuables lost in a sea of clutter. A clear desk policy helps make sure that your team’s personal items stay out of harm’s way. Your employees will feel like they have a safe for their essential office tools and valuable belongings.
  • Time and cost savings: Picture the scene – a world where your workers spend less time looking for things and more time excelling in their roles. A clean desk equals a clean mind. And that means a more economical, efficient office.


So, your workspace becomes a more productive place to be – not to mention one that’s easier to clean thoroughly, maintaining higher standards of hygiene. More on this shortly.


How to implement a clear desk policy


Enacting this policy doesn’t require a mastermind. Here are some simple changes you can make to implement a clean desk policy:


  • Lockable storage: Make your team’s life a whole lot easier with desks featuring lockable storage, or separate lockers elsewhere in the office. No more hauling around desk contents, it’s time to keep everything safe and sound in one specific spot.
  • Electronic documents: Escape paper clutter once and for all by switching to digital documents as much as possible. Non-essential paper printouts made more sense many years ago but now with laptops, smartphones and big screens in the office, it’s much easier to go digital.
  • Email check-ins: If you see that standards are slipping, give the team a nudge. When the end of the day rolls around, send your staff a gentle reminder. We don’t mean becoming an office disciplinarian, just a quick message saying to keep the clean desk vibe alive, and messy desks will be a thing of the past.
  • Incentives: Most of us enjoy a good old competition, right? So, throw in some motivations for anyone who masters the clean desk challenge. A little friendly rivalry might just be the winning ticket to a chaos-free workplace!
  • Lead by example: If the management team champions the clean desk policy, others will too. Make sure they’re not just supporting the policy but living it as well. Leading by example – it’s the clean desk policy in action for everyone.


Supporting a clean office


Less mess means your commercial cleaners can do their job more effectively, no longer needing to clean around all the technology, documents and personal belongings.


A neat workplace doesn’t just make their job easier – it means they can concentrate on sustaining a consistently spotless environment for everyone.


It isn’t just about hygiene – it’s about creating a setting where your cleaning team can thrive so every corner reflects the care and attention it deserves. Think FM’s office cleaning services in London can help. Our office cleaners are professional, experienced, and reliable.


Final thoughts


A clean desk policy doesn’t just mean more rules for the sake of it. It’s more about helping to create an office that’s secure, efficient and a great place to work.


Arguably, a clean desk policy is a vital enabler to a happier, healthier workplace. On a related theme, recently we provided an overview on workplace health and safety inspections.


And if your company is embracing hybrid working, you’re more likely to need a clear desk policy when space in the office is limited.

For more information on our cleaning services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

share this article

Related articles


Think FM Commercial Cleaning ISO 45001 badge
Think FM Commercial Cleaning ISO 14001 badge
Think FM Commercial Cleaning ISO 9001 badge
Think FM Commercial Office Cleaning Safe Contractor badge
Think FM Commercial Office Cleaning Living Wage accreditation
Think FM Commercial Cleaning ISO 45001 badge
Think FM Commercial Cleaning ISO 14001 badge
Think FM Commercial Cleaning ISO 9001 badge
Think FM Commercial Office Cleaning Safe Contractor badge
Think FM Commercial Office Cleaning Living Wage accreditation