Friday, April 19, 2024

6 Tips for Storing Business Files Safely

Operating a business, regardless of the industry, has always been tightly connected with a lot of paperwork. Despite the attempts to reduce the height of the mountain of documents each company is obliged to have, most UK companies are still buried in all sorts of files they have to store. So before you start declogging your office and get the folder you are balancing on your head off, you must learn how to store your business files properly. Now, if you are just starting your business, you might still have a lot of space in your new office to put clusters of files upon files, but soon enough, you will find yourself in the same situation almost every other entrepreneur has.

So before you start balancing documents on your head and build elaborate labyrinths of folders, we offer you a better solution – store your files elsewhere. This may sound like a Godsend, but before you rush to place your files in a storage room somewhere, consider the importance of these documents and the fact you might need them at some point.

To make it easier for you, we asked our friends at Fantastic Services, one of the most prominent storage service providers in the UK, and they gave us 6 tips on how to store our business files safely.

Organise your documents precisely

Classification, categorisation and labelling are vital in making your storage room not just a place where you will throw your documents but a place where you can easily navigate and find exactly what you are looking for in a short time. Organisation is key if you don’t want to aimlessly search for hours for a single document after five years. So, make sure to classify your documents according to which department they belong to. For example, if HR issued the file, it should go in one container, while if Finances issued the record, it should go in a separate container. Then, categorise them by date and year. Finally, don’t forget to make a digital master key of which document is where to quickly check where the file you’ll need is on your computer before you go to the storage place.

Naturally, you can come up with your organisation, but ensure it follows the logic that will work best for you.

Pick the right storage containers

Picking the right storage containers might be the difference between losing your documentation and keeping it safe and clean. You might be tempted to use regular old storage boxes, but there are better choices than that, as standard boxes are not very durable. Instead, go for either metal or airtight plastic containers. The plastic containers, depending on how much documentation you have, are a good choice, as they will prevent all elements and oxygen from taking a toll on the paper. Moreover, it will protect your files from rats and other pests, which often destroy large amounts of documents stored improperly.

Naturally, those containers are far more expensive than the carton boxes we all know from movies and TV shows.

When push comes to shove, you must decide what container best suits your needs. It depends on the type of documentation, where you are storing it, and how much time you expect it to stay there (most documents have expiration dates, after which they should be shredded and/or burned.

File and label clearly

Before putting all the files in a box, make sure you have a label that clearly states what documents one can find in that container. Otherwise, you risk losing a lot of paper or at least your employee’s time, which can be invested elsewhere. Make sure that you place all relevant information on the container. For example, a box that only says “IT” gives very little information. You need to put at least the date the documents were issued, and if you separated them into other sub-categories, the labels should also state them.

Keep everything away from moisture

That should be a no-brainer, but if you were wondering, the paper does not react very well to moisture—especially the ink on that paper. So, while suitable plastic airtight storage containers might be the first step in preventing your files from becoming a shapeless mass of pulp, you need to consider the storage place itself. You must ensure it’s prepared for floods and heavy rains if it’s your own building or facility. Unfortunately, in recent years there has been no lack of both in the UK, and with climate change, chances are they will most likely become even more severe each year. The best solution would be to have climate-control storage, so neither heat nor cold can affect your files.

Agree on a system for access and disposal

As your business grows, you need to start delegating work to others. That means that some of your teammates will need access to the documentation. You should be aware of the seriousness of this responsibility. Ideally, only loyal, long-term employees who have proven their worth will receive access. Sadly, best-case scenarios are only in textbooks and movies. So, instead, you need to prepare an easily understandable and secure system for access. Allowing everyone in the file storage is not very safe, so only people who need those documents (most likely in the upper management) should have access. They should be able to confirm when, why and which file they used.

Moreover, you will need to implement a process for disposing of expired and other documents that lost their relevance. Throwing away files in the public bin is not only irresponsible but is also illegal. So, delegate the responsibility of properly disposing of those files and ensure all norms are followed to the letter.

Invest in a good infrastructure for storing

Storing your sensitive files is not something to be taken lightly. Thus investing in some infrastructure to keep them protected is a must. An alarm system with motion sensors and CCTV is the bare minimum. Moreover, you need to invest in proper shelving, as just placing everything on top of each other will quickly lead to chaos. So, don’t be cheap and allocate the needed budget to prepare the storage facility for the vital job that awaits it.

Follow these 6 tips, and you can protect your sensitive documentation against the weather, pests and malicious actions without having them by your side at all times. 

Claire James
Claire Jameshttp://www.firedigitaluk.com
Claire is an accounts manager at Fire Digital UK, an online publishing and content marketing company based in the North West.

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