What Should You Do with Shredded Documents?

The security of your sensitive documents is of utmost importance. Any lapses in the security of your confidential documents can have severe consequences for your customers, your staff and the success of your business as a whole. As we have discussed before, securely destroying outdated or unnecessary documentation is incredibly important but what do you do with your paperwork once it has been shredded?

On-Site Shredding

Most office shredders tend to be one of two types of machine – either strip-cut shredders or cross-cut shredders. Strip cut shredders really aren’t made for the disposal of sensitive information, since they cut the paper into large pieces that are easily reassembled. While cross-cut machines are a little more secure, with enough time on their hands, the most patient of identity thieves could fit them back together.

The next level in secure confidential waste destruction is the particle cut shredder. This piece of kit breaks sheets of paper into much smaller pieces but they are often very expensive. This makes particle cut shredders most suitable to those businesses and industries with big budgets and even bigger security risks, such as government departments.

Since typical office shredders tend not to be the most secure of appliances, there are serious security risks concerning their ability to sufficiently “destroy” confidential documents. If you regularly leave your shredding bins until they are full or leave bags full of shredded paper by the outside bins, you may be putting yourself at risk and falling short of data protection laws.

Waste paper in an office bin

Compost your shredded paperwork

If you have the on-site facilities to do so, composting the shredded paper can be an environmentally friendly option. Paper is biodegradable and will quickly decompose, adding essential nutrients to your compost heap and preventing it going to landfill. You can then use this compost to enrich the soils around your offices or offer it to employees to bag up and take home – a very eco-friendly way to dispose of your unwanted paperwork.

Most everyday office documentation such as envelopes, receipts and office paper is safe for composting as modern-day printing methods are virtually contaminant free. However, there are some types of processed and heavily inked papers that are best avoided:

  • Glossy or waxy paper
  • Fluorescent coloured paper
  • Paper containing metallic inks
  • Coloured card or sugar paper

Mix It Up With Shredding

If this composting not a realistic option for you, recycling is still preferable to throwing the paper in with your general waste. Just be sure to mix the shredded pieces up with other paper waste and separate it all into a number of bags, so that all the pieces for one document are unlikely to be bundled together. Once the paper is collected, all the shreds get separated anyway so confidential information is unlikely to be recovered – no matter how tenacious the potential intruder!

Combining the two options, with half the shreds in compost and the other half in recycling, is a very efficient way of separating the pieces and keeping confidentiality in-tact.

Outsourcing Shredding

One of the biggest downsides of using an office shredding machine is that they also tend to be very small and slow, really only capable of shredding a few pieces of paper at a time. These on-site shredders are often better suited for domestic use. If your business is like many others, you will go through a lot of paperwork during the course of a week. Having your own office shredder might not be the most efficient use of your time.

In that case, outsourcing your shredding requirements could be a more practical and efficient option. A professional shredding service, like the one provided by Flexible Storage Solutions, knows exactly what to do with shredded documents, using a pierce and tear shredder that can process large amounts of paper and cardboard. Not only will outsourcing your shredding allow your employees to make better use of their working day, but it will also save you the cost of buying and maintaining shredding equipment.

Securely stored in waste consoles

When using a professional shredding company, you can store all your documents in a secure confidential waste console until they are collected for shredding. You don’t have to remove any paper clips or staples and you don’t have to worry about emptying the oil out of the shredder – everything is taken care of for you.

Environmentally friendly shredding

Many professional shredding companies will recycle all (if not part) of their shredded paper waste. For example, our shredding service sends all confidential paper waste to licensed UK-only paper mills to be recycled. Zero percent of our paper waste is sent to landfill so you can rest assured your paperwork is having as minimal an effect as possible on the environment.

One of the biggest benefits of external shredding companies is that their equipment does more than just shred paper – it completely pulverises it, so that it is impossible to piece back any kind of information on them. Our partner shredding company is a fully licensed carrier with the Environmental Agency and we provide you with a certificate of destruction with every batch of documents.

Get in touch with our team today to see how a professional document shredding service could benefit your business.

Moving Office? Here’s What You Need to Consider to Save Time and Money

Moving office is never an easy task. Whether you are moving to a new unit in the same building or a complete relocation across the country, the logistics involved in moving equipment, files and people are fairly complicated. That’s why it’s so important that you make the move as easy and straightforward as possible. It’s crucial that all of your belongings are organised so that everything is accounted for once you have moved into your shiny new office and all confidential documents are always protected.

With that in mind, we have put together some useful moving office advice to help make your relocation go off without a hitch.

Clear out the Clutter

There is never a better time to have a clear out than when you are already having to go through your office drawers, cabinets and desks in order to pack them away for moving. Have a bin and shredder nearby, so that you can throw away anything that is clearly rubbish and shred any documents containing data that has served its purpose (not sure what to shred? Check out our blog post on what business documents need secure shredding). Since the introduction of GDPR in 2018, it’s imperative that you stay on top of any out-dated paperwork that has accumulated. These files will likely contain sensitive information and pose a security risk if managed incorrectly. By going through all documentation in the office, you can pack your belongings, de-clutter your workspace and destroy sensitive data all at the same time!

Downsize Your Storage

The vast majority of businesses accumulate a significant amount of sensitive data, much of which you will need to keep. One of the best pieces of moving office advice that we can offer is to use this time to scan as much of your paper information as possible to computer files. You will then be able to securely destroy more unnecessary paperwork and have less to move to your new office. With copies of your documents saved online, there’s less chance of the odd piece of paper being left behind or falling out of a folder during the move, and therefore less chance of confidential information falling into the wrong hands. Of course, while the truly “paperless office” is yet to become a reality, you will still need to retain physical copies of most of your documents. Scanning and storing your important files online provides you with a backup should anything happen to the originals.

Another benefit of this is that you will have less to unpack in your new office, helping you to make better use of your space and preventing a fresh build-up of clutter.

Take Advantage of Document Storage

Why not go one step further than scanning your documents and take full advantage of a professional document storage service? Once you have packed up your files and securely shredded all unnecessary paperwork, you can let a storage facility take your confidential documents off your hands. Properly indexed, securely stored and easily retrieved with an online file management service, storage facilities keep your files safe and your office clutter-free. However, make sure you only store your files with a professional and fully GDPR compliant facility (such as Flexible Storage).  

Make a Floor Plan of your new Office

The chances are that your new office will not be identical to your old one, especially if you have downsized your storage. Now is a good time to look at the condition of your current chairs and desks, in order to identify any items that are past their best. If you have a floor plan drawn up, you can see exactly what you need and where it will go, so that your furniture can be put straight into place when unloading. Any surplus furniture can be donated, recycled or sold and any new furniture you might need can be ordered for delivery on or before moving day.

Plan Internet and Phoneline Relocation in Advance

It’s easy to forget about telecommunications until the very last minute – usually when you have unpacked at the other side, but if you think ahead, you can discuss your needs with your Internet and phone providers, helping to ensure there is no downtime in service. You want to be able to unpack and set-up as quickly as possible in your new office, in order to keep your business ticking over and your customers happy.

Get Staff involved

Make sure your team is giving you plenty of help moving office, so that you can also take the opportunity to inform them of fire exits, new procedures and security processes for the new premises. Let them know where they should report on moving day and the exact location of the new offices, as well as establish a seating plan ahead of time. While this may seem like obvious advice, doing most of this in advance will ensure your move is quick and easy and that everyone is comfortable with their new working home. You’d be surprised how many things are overlooked in the hustle and bustle of an office move!

There are so many things to consider when moving office locations and it can all seem rather overwhelming at times. By taking things one step at a time, planning in advance and taking advantage of professional services, you can keep a clear head on moving day, helping to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.

Contact the Flexible Storage team today to find out how our secure, professional storage services can benefit your office move, saving you valuable time, energy and money.

What business documents should be shredded?

Ever since the data protection act was passed in 1998, it has been a legal requirement for businesses to securely dispose of any paperwork that contains confidential information. This measure was intended to prevent the criminal misuse of sensitive information should it fall into the wrong hands. The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) placed even more emphasis on the importance of these measures, imposing heavy fines for companies that fail to comply with regulations.

So, what business documents should you be shredding? Firstly, take a look at the make-up of your business – the chances are that every single department in your company will process documents containing confidential data every single day.

In order to ensure your business is operating at the highest level of security and in compliance with all data protection laws, each area of your business will need to be appropriately organized. All important documents must be safely stored in accordance with their retention periods while any files that are no longer needed or have exceeded their retention periods will need to be securely shredded.

To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, we’ve created this helpful guide…

General Office Paperwork

  •       HR – Most offices will have some sort of human resources department, which will be home to documents including the personal data of employees, salary, pension and banking details, as well as any kind of restructuring plans you may have. This compilation of very sensitive data should be kept securely locked away until it is needed or its legal retention period expires, at which point it should correctly shredded.
  •       Accounts – Anything that could reveal financial transactions or sensitive details about individuals such as employees and customers is at high risk if improperly managed. Bank account details, salary documents, invoices and the vast majority of financial documentation are all highly sensitive documents.
  •       Sales & Marketing – If you conduct your sales and marketing activities in-house, you will want to check that department for redundant customer data, details of competitors, forecast sales information and any new product development information. If you are still unsure about what business documents should be shredded, think about whether or not the details contained could have the potential to harm individuals or the business. If in doubt, shredding is probably the safest option.
  •       Product Department – Make sure to securely dispose of work schedules, costing information, new tooling details and drawings that have served their purpose. Even the reception area could be housing sensitive paperwork, including visitor checking-in books and information about staff movements. These should also be shredded.
  •       Vulnerable Areas – Finally, keep an eye on the areas around the photocopier, fax machine and printers. These can become a dumping ground for paperwork that has been scanned/printed/photocopied incorrectly and these documents can often contain sensitive information. It might be worth keeping a confidential waste disposal console by all of these machines, so that employees can place their unwanted papers directly into it, significantly reducing the possibility of misuse or security breach.

Law Firms

Knowing when to shred and what documents need to be shredded in a law firm can be difficult. Some sensitive information needs to be kept for a long time, in case it’s needed as evidence within a case but holding onto it for longer than is legally necessary can result in large fines. Generally, dated legal information will be available in libraries or online, so your paper copy can be shredded without worry. Always check this with the appropriate authority, as the regulations regarding legal document retention can often be hard to navigate.

Financial documents that have fallen out of the company’s records retention schedule should be shredded immediately. In order to comply with GDPR, these records should be checked regularly for outdated records. Indexing your documents and using an online file management service can make this process a great deal easier.

The lines are blurred with case files; since these could potentially be used again in the future but obviously hold a lot of personal and sensitive information about the individuals involved. Documents such as will and real estate records should never be shredded and often, original documents should be kept in their original physical form – copies are not acceptable for judges.

Other Industries

There is a certain level of common sense that should be applied in cases of document shredding in financial institutions, healthcare, government agencies, construction companies and the retail industry. The seven-year rule applies for most businesses when handling sensitive data – anything unlikely to be used after this time should be shredded, but there are occasions when a company might still continue to store this information, for example, if it is needed for an ongoing care plan in the case of health businesses or if it relates to a financial account that is under investigation.

For more information on the industries that can most benefit from document shredding and storage services, take a look at this recent blog post on the subject.

In summary…

It’s worth adding, that a traditional strip-cut shredder is not considered enough for highly sensitive documents within a business environment. As well as deciding what business documents should be shredded, you need to think about how they are shredded. Look for shredders that offer a cross-cut option, effectively turning paper into tiny pieces of confetti that nobody would ever have the hope of piecing back together.

If in doubt, refer to your company policy and GDPR guidelines regarding the disposal of business documents.

At Flexible Storage, we want to make it easier for working businesses to drive efficiencies and protect confidential data. That’s why we have developed fully GDPR compliant professional shredding and document storage services to benefit all of our business customers.

Using GDPR to Benefit Your Business

The new guidelines surrounding the treatment of data in business have now been law for almost a whole year. Since compliance of the new rules is an essential requirement, it makes sense for businesses to look at the benefits of GDPR, using it to improve and streamline their administrative processes.

The General Data Protection Regulation became law throughout Europe in May 2018. Regardless of the outcome of Brexit, the UK has elected to adopt the same principles when we leave the EU. One thing that the politicians have agreed on is that the GDPR benefits are well worth implementing in our own businesses, especially as any trade deals with European companies will need to comply with the various points within the regulation. Here we outline five of the positive effects that GDPR could have on your business.

GDPR Benefits Number 1: Security

Keeping data safe and secure for clients is one of the most important benefits of GDPR. The majority of security breaches have been caused as a result of human error, making them difficult to defend in case of compliance fees, brand reputation and angry customers. Having a clear and concise policy in place, with strict rules as to how data should be handled, reduces the risk of employees accidentally revealing information they shouldn’t, while also helping to minimise the cost should a breach occur.

One of the stipulations of GDPR is that anyone dealing with data can now be prosecuted in the event of unlawful disclosure, so that full responsibility is not placed solely on the person in charge of the data. This makes external document storage a far safer option, using a company like Flexible Storage Solutions, so long as the company can prove GDPR compliance.

GDPR Benefits Number 2: Transparency and Organisation

GDPR guidelines insist that data is organised in a way that ensures it is easy to access sensitive information quickly. The GDPR business benefits of this stipulation are obvious, with a neat and tidy system that means that client requests for data are always easy to comply with, preventing employees wasting time searching for information and also reducing the chances of that data becoming ‘lost’ in the system.

Even if a company has gone through several structural changes, with mergers and takeovers that have meant the accumulation of data from several sources, GDPR indexing suggestions should ensure important information is always to hand.

GDPR Benefits Number 3: Customer Confidence

Advertising your compliance with GDPR is sure to increase customer confidence in your brand, since they will know that their data is being handled in a way that is reliable and responsible. With GDPR principles in place, data breaches will become few and far between, so that company reputation is kept in place and customer loyalty is rewarded with safe and secure data.

GDPR Benefits Number 4: Cost-Effective Storage

One of the rules that businesses must abide by is that all personal data held must be relevant and up-to-date. This encourages companies to have a clear-out of all old records, enabling them to improve the efficiency of daily operations. This helps reduce maintenance costs, especially if your business rents additional space on your work premises. Time is money and as documents become easier to access and manage, employee time will be better spent on their core activities, rather than searching through piles of unnecessary paperwork.

GDPR Benefits Number 5: Efficient Use of Data

When making decisions in business, companies are now required to ensure human intervention helps to streamline the process. Removing the automated part of the decision-making procedure means that there is less room for error, so that data is used in a more effective and efficient way. The fact that documents are better consolidated and easier to access with an online file management system means that the decision-making process is far less daunting for an employee.

There are many benefits of GDPR and since it is now a mandatory requirement for all businesses within Europe, as well as those that intend to deal with European companies, it makes sense for businesses to embrace these new rules and use them to their advantage.

At Flexible Storage, our document storage services are fully compliant with the GDPR regulations, so you know your documents will be in the safest possible hands. Get in touch with one of our professional storage consultants here to get a quote!