At this time of year businesses review their goals to make a fresh start for the new year. Another way to make a clean start for the new year is to clear out unwanted paperwork and files. Keeping obsolete paperwork could actually be a risk to your business.
The storage of obsolete files is inefficient poor records management. This adversely affects an organisations’ competitive advantage. The main cost is the economic loss resulting from resources like space and staff time being devoted to the storage of unwanted paperwork. This opportunity cost is how the space and time could be better utilised. For example, consider that if filing cabinets could be removed from an office and an extra fee earner installed with the potential to bring in revenue then the business will have a productivity gain.
All organisations must comply with data protection legislation and a key requirement of the Data Protection Act 2018 is that information is only retained for as long as it is necessary. By definition, keeping data beyond the required period is an offence and can incur penalties of up to €20 million or 4% of a firm’s global turnover (whichever is greater). A penalty such as this can not only be crippling in itself but it will can seriously damage the reputation of a business.
The retention of unwanted paperwork will increase the chance of a data breach. A data breach will increase the risk placed on your employees, customers and commercial advantage. The less information retained the less chance of data loss.
In busy operations the temptation is for untrained staff to simply put unwanted paperwork into archive boxes and deposit into storage places such as cupboards, basements and storerooms. This dumping can lead to the piling up of paperwork that can result in health and safety risks. Files and papers stored too high or on unsuitable shelving can lead to manual handling injuries and working at height issues as staff strain to access paperwork. Consider also that overfilled storerooms may result in boxes being placed on the floor creating trip hazards, or worse, blocking emergency exits. Considering the combustible nature of paperwork it is unbelievable the more the risk of fire. A few years ago we cleared a basement ‘storeroom’ that was actually the boiler room – a source of ignition that that would be fueled very quickly as it was surrounded by archiving.