Isn’t it pretty common for desks of employees to be covered with several different projects throughout the workday? Little do most know, workspaces that are always cluttered can lead to big problems that could require extensive IT help, such as network security issues.
Many people might not know that desk organization promotes network security and by doing so, eliminates your business from needing external IT help if a problem arises.
It might sound silly, but a messy desk or cluttered office often goes hand-in-hand with lower productivity and an increase in stress, but desk clutter can also bring about other, more serious issues that affect the entire business.
The same habits that produce a chronically cluttered desk can lead to dangerous network security oversights.
IT Help: 5 Serious Messy Desk Security Dangers
A cluttered desk increases stress and promotes forgetfulness. This could mean documents or sensitive information gets misplaced for indefinite periods. While the problem might seem minor if it’s resolved, a bigger incident is likely lurking around the corner.
There are several situations in which a cluttered desk can undermine network security.
1. Lost documents
Many workers refer to a cluttered desk as "Organized Chaos." This description is rarely accurate. Research shows that employees spend an average of 4.3 hours each week searching for misplaced paper.
While this lack of production isn't exactly a security risk, the location of those temporarily misplaced documents could be. The protection of data refers to every piece of information that shouldn't be released to the public.
A piece of paper left visible on the desk could potentially be as damaging as an unsecured network or the absence of a firewall. An unsecured IT or computer network is the kind of IT help you never want to have to get.
Post-it notes on a computer screen or a password list are common ways for absent-minded employees to provide the necessary passwords to get through the workday easily. Unfortunately, these "Helpers" make it easy for anyone to gain access to your network and sensitive information.
3. No Shredder
Any business that deals with sensitive information likely has a shredder somewhere in the building and policies on when it should be used. However, it's all too easy to procrastinate when it comes to proper trash disposal.
Owners of messy desks are often procrastinators, and trash that was intended to make it to the office shredder might end up crumpled in the trash can (or worse, still on the desk) by the end of the day.
4. Unsecured data on unlocked devices or flash drives
Sensitive information isn't only found on paper. A messy desk is often home to company tablets or flash drives that aren't secured. As the popularity of data storage via the cloud becomes an obvious business solution, sensitive documents can be accessed in many different ways.
Careless use of this type of storage could potentially lead to a significant breach of network security. There’s an extensive amount of IT help you’d have to invest your time and money in if a data breach occurs. If we can speak for most businesses, we’ll say no company wants to endure this.
5. Unlocked or disorganized file cabinets
Many businesses are acutely aware of the need for cybersecurity against online threats and how to block attacks through malicious software. However, the need for network security to secure data doesn't begin or end online. Messy offices usually include disorganized or unlocked file cabinets for easy accessibility throughout the day.
Unfortunately, easy access for the employee intended to use the files means easy access for everyone else as well. Data protection includes the protection of any piece of paper that can be lost or stolen.
5 Ways to Kick the Clutter
While you may protest that a cluttered desk is the product of a creative mind, you don't want to deal with the fallout of a web security oversight. A creative mind has the potential to be even more potent with the functionality of a clean desk.
If workers in your company are accustomed to working among the clutter, ditching those habits will likely take some extra effort. Try these tips to work toward cleaner desks throughout the workplace.
1. Implement a clean desk policy
A clean desk policy will dictate the way your employees' desks should appear when they leave for the day. Additional statutes can be set for times when offices will be unattended for a short time.
A clean desk policy should be put in writing and usually demands that all sensitive material (including documents, notes, removable media, and business cards) be cleared from desks daily.
2. Enforce a company-wide shredding policy
Employees should know exactly how to care for and dispose of sensitive documents. A shredding policy should dictate indexing, retention span, proper destruction, and final disposal.
Safely shredding documents doesn't merely mean feeding paper into a shredder. For true security, the life cycle and disposal of a file should be documented, and shredded remains securely disposed of.
You may even want to go as far as to create a “digital shredding” policy. Some companies today are having all emails that are older than 30 days automatically purged to decrease their digital footprint and lessen their liability of what their staff has put in writing— or at least make it harder to follow the “digital trail.”
3. Provide the right security equipment
Easy accessibility to shredders makes them more likely to be used. Additionally, for sensitive data to be secure, employees need the proper equipment to get the job done.
Locking storage for important files, sensitive devices, and temporary possession should be supplied to ensure data breaches don't occur. When it's time for the disposal of confidential documents, secured shredding bins should be supplied.
4. Try hot desking
Hot desking is a strategy where employees mostly share all office space. Instead of dedicated desks, employees have the resources they need to complete their job in any work area in the space their job takes place.
This tactic prevents clean-up procrastination because the desk will be used by another employee as soon as the next shift or the following day.
5. Get IT Help
Technology has provided companies with seemingly endless convenient ways to share and store secure data. However, as our technology grows, the knowledge of hackers expands as well.
Hiring a professional IT management company can help you provide network security, email security, and much more, with protection from hackers and secure data backup. In some cases, managed IT services can eliminate the need for an in-house IT department.
Messy desks and cluttered office space offer the potential for too many problems to crop up within a business. Clean up the issue before pesky production problems grow into major security dangers. For more great tips about office products and IT help, visit our Learning Center. Better yet, reach out to us to gain better peace of mind to help you win more business.
A true southerner from Atlanta, Georgia, Marissa has always had a strong passion for writing and storytelling. She moved out west in 2018 where she became an expert on all things business technology-related as the Content Producer at AIS. Coupled with her knowledge of SEO best practices, she's been integral in catapulting AIS to the digital forefront of the industry. In her free time, she enjoys sipping wine and hanging out with her rescue-dog, WIllow. Basically, she loves wine and dogs, but not whiny dogs.