Taking care of your old documents is a complicated process.
On one hand, you need to keep them stored away so that they don’t obstruct your daily work and clutter up the workspace. On the other, however, when you do need the documents, you need to be able to locate them quickly and not waste hours trying to figure out where they might have ended up.
Even if you have a storage facility for keeping all of your documents, at least part of them will get misplaced or lost sooner or later, which can have negative consequences on your business.
And today, when many of the newer documents are already stored digitally, how can you still find a reliable way to handle old paper records that are still relevant to your business?
Well, there are a few steps you can take to help make the process easier.
First Off, Handle the Documents with Care
Paper documents, especially those that have been used for a while, tend to wear down sooner or later. That’s why it’s essential to handle your paper records with care – you need to make sure you don’t smudge, tear or otherwise damage your documents because that can be impossible to fix.
Establishing guidelines for handling documents throughout the office can help to educate your coworkers and employees about document preservation and instill better practices that lead to a prolonged lifespan for your documents.
Besides handling the documents with clean hands, they should not be kept near places where there’s food or drink, or where smoking is permitted. Objects with sharp edges such as bracelets or even rings should also be taken into account.
Design a Safe Storage Room
Your storage room contains most of the essential business documents that allow your company to function, so you need to take the time to design it in a way that ensures that your documents are safe and remain in good condition for as long as possible.
Your storage room should be able to protect your documents from numerous environmental factors such as sunlight, dust, water, humidity, or extreme temperatures. Although some of these factors may not immediately damage documents, over time they can have a devastating effect.
Another important step is keeping the documents separate by using individual folders, and in some cases, even putting the papers in plastic protectors. You should also put your documents into secure storage boxes that prevent the accumulation of dust and also provide an additional line of defense against environmental factors.
Make sure you develop a system for marking your storage boxes and filing cabinets so that you can quickly locate the documents that you need.
Also, consider establishing a logging system for tracking who checks out and returns specific documents.
Don’t Skip on Shredding Old Documents
Old documents that are no longer needed should be shredded and removed.
They not only can clutter up the workplace and slow down daily operations, but they pose a real risk to the safety of the workers because it is a serious fire hazard.
Shredding documents is also the only way to ensure that sensitive information doesn’t get lost or stolen – it allows to destroy confidential documents without the possibility for them to be stolen and used for ill purposes.
When you shred documents, you’re also making an eco-friendly choice – shredded paper records are much easier to recycle and can help to reduce the amount of your waste.
Make Preserving Easier with Document Digitization
No matter how secure your storage unit or how good your document handling practices, you can’t guarantee that your paper records will remain safe. Accidents happen, things get misplaced, and one of those times the cost of losing a document may turn out to be much bigger than you’d like.
Luckily, it’s now easier than ever to digitize your documents and ensure that they remain secure and in mint shape forever.
You can easily find a document scanning company that provides document digitization services at an affordable price and can take on even more extensive projects.
When you digitize your documents, you don’t have to worry about misplacing them in your storage – in just a few seconds, you can search through your digital database and locate the ones that you need.
You can even go through vast amounts of documents and locate the key phrases that you’re looking for, significantly reducing the time it would otherwise take to perform this type of research.
With digital documents, you don’t have to be at the office to access them, either. You can set up your database to be accessible through the web, which would allow you and your employees to access them from anywhere securely.
Don’t Forget to Secure Your Digital Documents
Just as you would lock your storage room from intruders, you need to ensure that your digital files are secured as well. Although access to the virtual database is very convenient, you only want those that are authorized to be able to reach it.
But the good news is, there are plenty of ways to ensure that your digital documents are always secure.
Using encryption technology, you can set up a system that only allows those with login access to access the files, so that even if the files themselves got stolen, the encrypted data would be impossible to read.
In addition to encryption, you also need to back up your data to ensure that in case something were to happen to your servers, all of the documents could still be restored from the backup location.
Today, you don’t even need a physical server to store your files – you can simply find a trustworthy cloud storage provider and store all of your documents there. This would allow the records to be accessed from anywhere and using any device.
About the Author: Brandon Harris is the vice president of Smooth Solutions, inc. founded by his father Michael Harris, who has been a pioneer in document scanning industry for over 35 years. A leading Document Scanning Service in Lodi, N.J., they are experts in providing document shredding services. They scan paper files, large format drawings, convert microfilm to digital, digitize books, etc. Prior to that, Brandon owned and operated a small bakery. Other than working to grow and improve his business, he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and family.