With over a million people now working from home, businesses could find themselves with a little more spare time.

With over a million people now working from home, businesses could find themselves with a little more spare time, perhaps to take a look at their document retention efforts. Especially if your business is mainly situated in a warehouse or office environment, you may find from time to time that your space is cluttered with documents and paperwork.

You may also have heard of a little something called General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, which was updated back in May of 2018 where many new rules were introduced with a certain added pressure for businesses to start understanding how it effects their paper documents they already have possession of.

Getting started

When it comes to document retention, one of the common things businesses ask is ‘how long should I keep my documents for’ and when you’re a business full of employees who come and go or you keep receipts and other bank records as well as insurance documents and contracts, the initial question becomes a daunting one.

A good first step is to separate sensitive data from non-sensitive data, as this will need to be treated differently, especially under GDPR. Sensitive data should only be kept for as long as is necessary, for example bank records such as cheques and bills of exchange should only be retained for 6 years.

Depending on your industry, for example if you are in the Healthcare Sector, retention periods of these types of documents are much longer, in some cases you can hold onto documents for up to 30 years, however some patient data should be kept until their 25th birthday.

There is quite a lot of information to take in and potentially more if your sector deals with very personal data which, as mention above will needed to be treated differently. You can find more information the disposal of documents here.

Understanding paper usage

Now we’re not talking about the ever-lasting quest for toilet paper (which we could probably say is in much more demand right now than writing paper) we mean understanding how much paper your business potentially uses – and wastes on average.

If you’ve been keeping up with the environmental side of things, you may have seen that the NHS aim to be completely paperless by 2023 and actually some NHS trusts say they are already fully digitised despite having years left to meet the target.

This should set a good example for a huge number of businesses that could also jump on the band-wagon and digitise a huge proportion of documents that are taking us valuable shelf space. Not only that, but actually spending time looking for paperwork can take up 50% of someone’s working time.

So as you start sifting through piles of documents, personal data and outdated paperwork think about which types of documents would be best suited to be digitised for both ease of access and as a security measure.

All of these points together leads to one very obvious conclusion; that digitising your office space is worth investing time into (especially now) whether that’s through your own doing by a scanner or you seek the help of a professional document scanning service, the end result will be saved time, resources and money going forward.

How else could you retain and dispose of documents?

If you’ve already taken the plunge to go through the filing cabinet you have been avoiding for a while, you might be wondering aside from digitising documents, are there other ways? It can be long task to digitise documents manually, unless you have help from an external document company, so how else can it be done?

Shredding Documents

Obviously to destroy documents, we recommend shredding paperwork which we assume most business would do semi-regular to a variety of documents they no longer need hanging around. However if you’re getting into the nitty-gritty of it and find there are 100’s perhaps even 1000’s of paper documents that need destroying, this again is a lengthy task that you could make a start at but ultimately might want to seek professional help.

Shredding documents should be done so properly, especially for documents that do entail personal information such as names, date of birth, addresses and even financial information you don’t want unauthorised eyes to peek at.

Although domestic type paper shredders do get the job done, commercial shredders used by external document services ensure paperwork is cross-shredded, bailed and in some cases even recycled.

Storing Documents

Once you’ve narrowed down the documents you need to destroy and documents you’re confident can be held on to for longer, the joy of seeing a mostly empty storage space or office area might inspire you to look for somewhere to store the remaining documents you need to keep.

You could always place them back but then comes the next job of sorting and archiving, which actually, document storage companies can help you with. This could be a huge benefit to overall office space and even as a stress factor – why spend most of your day wading through paperwork when you can have it all filed and sorted externally?

Then when you need to retrieve a document or several, they can be easily accessed, sent over and received, ready for you to get on with the task at hand.

Looking forward

We hope this article was useful, it’s a difficult time for a lot of businesses and hopefully some companies can find a slice of time to prepare themselves for getting back into work and what better way to start, than with a fresh, more organised office space.

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