Clear desk policies

Clear desk policies

While many employers fear that having a formal ‘clear desk policy’ could be seen as overly prescriptive, many employees support the approach to help keep company information secure

The definition of a clear desk is one free of any items or paperwork. Few employees believe such a policy stifles individuality or that it’s only relevant to a “flexible” environment, such as one where “hot desking” is a practice.

Over the last decade we have seen job tenures shorten and in more recent years we have also seen a surge in the practice of ‘hot desking’ or assigning employees laptops so they can work anywhere around a work space instead of being assigned a particular desk.

Many companies are also moving more and more of their documentation and work processes into the cloud further reducing the need for assigned desks within reach of either a desktop or nearby physical filing system.

The trend of depersonalised workspaces and break in the attachment that comes through having an assigned desk means employers have to work harder to create a sense of belonging with their organisation.

Trends like clear desks offer environmental and workforce planning benefits but also present new challenges that can be overcome by reinforcing the programs, benefits and policies that promote employee attachment and retention.

Here are six tips for managing employee attachment:

1. Get staff involved in creating the policy
Use internal staff surveys and/or the staff engagement committee to help foster buy in from employees when developing ‘clear desk’ policies. Consider running a competition for the best ideas.

2. Make it easy to understand the rationale
Clearly explain the reasons for the policy, which could include enhancing information security and creating greater workplace productivity by utilising the cloud and making better use of the existing workspace.

3. Celebrate the benefits
Report back to staff on all significant benefits such as reduced energy use and cost savings through the use of laptops and less paper as well as greater team interaction through sharing the work space in new ways.

4. Consider introducing flexible working conditions
Introducing a system of flexible working conditions whether that is staggered hours or work from home days at the same time as a clear desk policy and/or hot desking will help employees focus on the benefits to them of the change.

5. Align all activities to the company vision and goals
Research shows employees gain greater attachment to an employer when they clearly understand how their daily activities impact the goals and overall vision of the company. Encourage managers to articulate the link with their team members on a regular basis.

6. Review and improve reward and recognition programs
Ensure your reward and recognition programs are creative and competitive with the programs offered by competitors and keep these top of mind through regular communication with employees.

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