The Upside To The GDPR

by Vicky Maxwell

Your organisation, like ours, is likely spending a lot of time and money getting ready for the new GDPR legislation. With all the new policies, training and compliance that goes along with the GDPR, at times it can feel a bit like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. From a leader’s perspective, trying to change people’s working habits alongside their existing responsibilities can become a bit of an unwanted headache.

While it might be tempting to moan and complain about all the work that needs to be undertaken, I am very much a glass-half-full type of person (and where’s that bottle?). Viewed in a positive light, GDPR offers the opportunity for some much needed organisational spring cleaning, and as a company, there are many positives we are experiencing. Here are ten upsides to the GDPR:

  1. As a starter, we’ve had a lot of frank and existential conversations about our purpose as an organisation; what we are doing and why. That has been a useful exercise and introduced clarity of thinking into our strategic vision.
  2. Through this thinking, we have been able to audit, streamline and harmonise our business processes. We have introduced best practice and removed unnecessary activities. This will undoubtedly lead to improved efficiencies and productivity.
  3. Our central database has been cleaned up and we’ve managed to get rid of years of accumulated data which has slowed down our processes, our systems and which we should have got rid of years ago. Our company IP is now improved, up-to-date and relevant.
  4. Our focus on security has allowed us to get rid of a decade of unnecessary paper files and has created lots more space in our office. Our cyber security is under control and our staff are well-educated on the importance of security overall.
  5. Our clear desk policy and security focus have encouraged a culture of individual responsibility and an improved mindset of tidiness and clear thinking.
  6. We have been able to assess and re-consider our third-party suppliers to ensure they are fit for purpose, leading to the opportunity to re-negotiate contracts and deliver savings.
  7. We have used our focus on GDPR (and the fact that we are ahead of our competitors) as a marketing USP and used this opportunity to re-engage with our candidates in a positive way.
  8. Members of our team who are working on GDPR have been empowered and have been able to step up to deliver this highly visible project. Our project management skills and ability to execute within our organisation have improved.
  9. One of the nicest spin offs from GDPR has been our Office Beautification project. With a cleaner, tidier office and a work force who really understand and feel confidence in the value and purpose of our business processes, we wanted to create an office environment that reflected our values, allowed us to take pride in our surroundings and our company and would be an agreeable place to work. Clean desks, cupboard tops and window sills are now home to a veritable jungle of greenery. Cushions have been placed on the low ledges in front of the windows and we have refreshed the art work on our walls. This has focused us on health and well-being: everyone has a jug of water on their desk to encourage hydration, we have undertaken workstation assessments to ensure we are sitting properly and we contribute to regular healthy buffet lunches where we get together to eat and chat in a relaxed environment. Along with a commitment by many of us ditch the stairs (all eight flights) for Lent, all of this is definitely making us healthier, fitter and happier.
  10. I would like to think that as a company, working together to deliver this difficult project has created a stronger team culture and respect for each other which will be critical to the longer-term success of our business!

Although it might not seem like it right now, (and things are only going to get busier in the lead up to May 25th) there are many positives to be drawn from the GDPR preparation. I’m optimistic that in hind-sight, many people will view the GDPR as a positive initiative that helped focus and bring organisations together, and as a leader, hopefully the above ten examples gives you the positive encouragement that you and your business are doing the right thing.

As inspiration, we took some photos of our office before and after our GDPR clear desk and security policies were put in place. We took the chance to add some plant life to the office and create spaces away from desks where employees can sit. Hopefully you’ll agree it’s made our office a nicer place to work!

A typical desk before our GDPR security policies. Untidy, personal information not securely locked away.

A desk after our GDPR security policies. Personal information secured, clean desk and plant life!

Clear desks!

We gave staff a potted plant once their desk had passed the GDPR inspection. We also dotted them around the office and put cushions on the sideboards for people to sit away from their desks

About The Author

Partner
With 20 years’ experience in executive search, Vicky Maxwell Davies is one of three Founding Partners and is a key member of our Global Technology practice. Her insider’s perspective and deep industry expertise, gained from a substantial background in technology, make her superbly qualified to recruit top candidates for the increasingly critical role of Chief Information Officer.
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