Clean Desk Policy

Clean desk policies were initially introduced to ensure workspaces were clutter free, making them great looking spaces – ones that would also help increase productivity.  It allowed flexibility of working spaces, making sure desks weren’t purely owned by one person.

With the implementation of GDPR in 2018, it became even more imperative to have a clean desk policy to help keep companies GDPR compliant – ensuring confidential files and information weren’t seen by prying eyes or falling into the wrong hands. 

And now in 2020, a clean desk policy is now imperative – not only to make your business and office compliant with GDPR legislation, but also to make it more hygienic.  If your desk is cluttered with paperwork, post-it notes, mugs and other personal possessions, how can you ensure everything is thoroughly cleaned at the end of the day, ready for any of your staff to use it the following day.

But I’m still working from home – why would I need a clean desk policy?

A clean desk policy doesn’t only relate to those people who are now back in the office.  It’s now becoming clearer that many companies will be adopting new work from home policies for their staff post lockdown.

If you’re one of the many professionals that is still able to work from home, a clean desk policy is not just there simply to provider a clearer space for cleaning.

What would happen if you were to leave a confidential file at home on your desk, and the worst happened – you were broken into and that file was taken?  What would be the legal stance for you, or your company in terms of GDPR?

What if you leave important documents on the kitchen counter and coffee was spilled on them – those ones being the only copy to work from – what do you do?

What if you have an important video call with a colleague or a client and private documents are on display?

A clean desk policy will help you organise your work space – reducing your stress and giving you that peace of mind you need.  With some simple organisation, you can save time finding important documents and know that when you don’t need them, they’re safe and GDPR compliant.

With Flexible Storage Solutions we can offer you Business Document Storage, Financial Document Storage, Legal Document Storage and Medical Document Storage.  We’re fully compliant with GDPR data protection regulations, so you’re in the safest possible hands.  With our online file management service, we can index all of your business documents to make it easy for you to track and retrieve any of your files in storage, allowing you to have your space back at home and adhere to your clean desk policy…..and if the mood takes you, you can give your own workspace a quick wipe down!

The dreaded return to work

So working from home was your dream – no more early starts, the freedom to work in your pyjamas and avoiding the dreaded commute!!

Then lockdown began to ease…

In light of the current situation surrounding Covid-19, it is now more important than ever for those companies who are already open, or beginning to reopen, to implement a clean desk policy, not only for the security of documents but for your own staffs health and safety.

At Flexible Storage Solutions we can help you with the hire of our confidential waste disposal bins.  You can ensure maximum hygiene standards are maintained at all times in the office. A simple slot in the top of the bin allows you to simply drop the documents in, leaving yourself and the bin virus free.  No more office shredders, being operated by multiple people all day. 

We’ll ensure contactless deliveries and collections and replace the waste disposal bags when it’s convenient for you.  GDPR compliance is adhered to at every level; drivers and staff are vetted and DBS checked and your confidential waste has a certificate of destruction for every batch!

What Are The Benefits Of Document Storage Over Self Storage?

There is a lot to be said about self-storage and the ability to utilise off-site space for your business. When it comes to documentation storage though, on most occasions, you will be better off with a dedicated document storage facility.

Any business, no matter what size, will accumulate all types of paperwork that is subject to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws. Managing large amounts of paperwork can become very time consuming and not very cost effective. A dedicated document storage service can help significantly with operations and assist in you remaining compliant. Let’s talk about some of the benefits of our dedicated document storage services.

1: Cost

It is a common misconception that document storage is far more expensive than self-storage services.

This is far from the truth.

Not only are the costs cheaper but there are also added financial benefits to outsourcing your storage and filing systems to a dedicated company. One of the main ones being that you do not have to employ or use existing staff to retrieve the documents. This saves on travel, staff hourly costs and training for the storage systems in place. Our team can have your documentation delivered to you from a simple phone call.

2: Barcoded and tracked boxes

Gone are the days of physical filing systems used to store location data about products and items. Using barcoded and tracked boxes we can efficiently access the location of all your important documents. This is the most effective way to keep track of your documentation. It means that within minutes your documentation can be located and sent for without any confusion or time wastage. Having an effective retrieval process can make the entire process of your important documentation retrieval seamless and hassle free.

3: Water and fire-proof storage

Fire and water damage are a very real risk for any stored items including important documentation. Although with normal items there are insurances and financial reimbursements, this will not cover the loss of the data within your documents. This is a very important factor for any type of document storage.

4: GDPR compliant

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR ) has become a huge part of modern day life within business. It is a term that covers a wide variety of data protection aspects within the industry. All GDPR conditions are met with our secure document storage services.

With data security being at the forefront of information storage we make sure that every aspect of your documentation storage is GDPR compliant. This means you can relax with the knowledge that there will be no data breaches or concerns while you use our premium service.

5: Your boxes and files retrieved as and when you need them

The last thing you want when you need access to important data is a bottleneck in the retrieval process. This is one of the main reasons to use a dedicated documentation storage service. Whatever you need is only a phone call or an email away. Using our top of the line inventory systems means we can retrieve any documentation you require quickly and efficiently in a timely manner. This means that if you have time critical documents that you need to get hold of you will not need to worry about things our end.

6: Up to date inventories

As with any form of data management, quick and hassle free access is a must. We have systems in place to allow for any requisition of data to be prompt and stress free.

We can produce up to date inventories of all your documentation whenever you need them. This service comes with the package and is useful for staying up to date with all your stored documents.

If you have anymore questions regarding storage of your important documentation then contact us today.

How Much Paper Gets Wasted In The UK Each Year?

In the UK, we use about 12.5 million tons of paper each year. The trees needed to produce this amount would cover about 21,000 square km – roughly the size of Wales. Comprising 20% of all waste in the UK, the amount of paper we throw away is substantial. If we recycled just 10% more paper each year, we’d save approximately 5 million trees. Given the scale of the issue in the UK it’s worth asking – who are the main offenders, and how can they reduce their paper waste? Let’s take a look. 

Offices 

Abandoned sheets in the photocopier, printed emails, and notebook scraps. Offices have long been known to be serial paper wasters. The average UK office worker uses approximately 10,000 sheets a year, and 75% of this ends up in the waste paper bin. Although sometimes it’s necessary to use paper – for example with legal and official documents – a lot of the time it’s not. A more considered use of paper in the office would do wonders to help reduce the UK’s overall paper wastage. 

How to reduce paper in the office 

  • Use cloud-based applications – It’s easier than ever to securely share information with colleagues and clients using the internet. Cloud-based applications provide an instant way to transfer information and often facilitate collaboration. Consider Google Docs for working on documents as a team, DropBox to share files, or Evernote to take notes during a meeting. Transferring common office functions like these to cloud-based applications will end up saving you reams of wasted paper. 
  • Be print aware – You can keep track of how much you’re printing by using print audit software and setting departmental printing budgets. Train staff on when to use the printer and perhaps incentivize limited use – a prize for the team that’s printed the least this month?
  • Invest in hardware –Consider doubling-up on computer monitors. Having two monitors reduces the need to print documents just for the sake of reference. 

Schools 

British schools churn through a lot of paper each year. Whether it’s down to exercise books, report cards, or papier-mache creations, schools account for masses of wasted paper. Each year, the average primary school student produces about 45kg of waste (split for the most part between food and paper waste), and each secondary school student is responsible for about 22kg. Even without considering the mounds of paper involved in school administration, this is a significant amount of rubbish. While a lot of tips for reducing office paper waste can be applied to schools, there are also some more specific actions that you can take. 

How to reduce school paper waste 

  • Paperless resources – Teachers can take advantage of resources that don’t involve paper. Integrating videos, music, or interactive games into a lesson makes it more engaging and avoids creating unnecessary waste. 
  • Email communications – Rather than sending out paper newsletters and reports, schools can simply share any information they want with parents and students by email. Not only does it reduce paper use, but they can actually track engagement with whoever they’re communicating with. 
  • Fewer exercise and textbooks –  We fully appreciate that not every school will have the funds to fully utilise tech in the classroom, but where possible, consider substituting exercise and textbooks with laptops and tablets. The tech provides a wealth of teaching opportunities whilst removing the need to throw out stacks of note-filled books every year. 

Hospitals 

Another area that contributes significantly to the UK’s paper waste is healthcare. The administrative burdens placed on health professionals in the NHS, for example, are often in the headlines. GPs want to spend more time diagnosing and treating patients, and less sifting through door-stop wedges of folders to find records. Added to this are paper prescriptions and a dizzying array of information leaflets, many of which are never actually read. The result of this flood of paper is not just a reduction in the efficiency of our health service, but an increase in costs – the NHS estimates that each trust spends on average between £500,000 – £1,000,000 a year on storing physical documents. To tackle this problem, in 2005 it launched the Paperless 2020 program – an initiative aimed at reducing the use of paper in the healthcare system through better use of technology. 

How to reduce hospital paper waste 

  • Digital medical records – With medical records stored on a secure server, health professionals can access and update across different hospitals and departments – leading to a faster, more efficient service. 
  • Digital prescriptions – Rather than distributing prescriptions in a paper slip, hospitals, and health centres would benefit from the use of digital prescriptions, sent via email or text. Whilst reducing paper waste, it could decrease the chances of dangerous prescription errors. 
  • Cloud-based administration – Various routine hospital tasks can be transferred to a cloud-based application. Ward inspections, for example, could benefit from the use of apps such as Perfect Ward – removing the need to fill out time-consuming paperwork. 

How to dispose of confidential documents 

Despite efforts to minimise paper waste, it’s almost impossible to completely eliminate the need for physical documents. This is especially true for documents that contain sensitive, confidential information – certificates, legal communications, and financial statements, for example. In order to safely dispose of these, the best option is to use the services of a licensed paper shredding company. 

At Flexible Storage, we offer a professional shredding service via our partner company. Working in full compliance with GDPR, we destroy sensitive documents securely and issue you with a certificate of destruction to prove it. 100% of the paperwork we dispose of is recycled – ideal for companies that want to ensure airtight data protection whilst remaining environmentally-conscious. 

We can also supply confidential waste disposal bins to ensure all sensitive paperwork is securely stored before disposal. These lockable consoles are perfect for any environment, from schools to hospitals to any corporate office. We’ll collect them on an agreed regular basis or whenever it’s almost full – just let us know and we’ll be there. As with our shredding service, all documents are recycled at UK paper mills with zero percent of our paper waste sent to landfill. For every tonne of paper waste recycled, approximately 17 trees are saved. Secure and sustainable paper disposal – what more could you want?

Get in touch with our team today for more information about our shredding services and even receive a quote. 

What are the costs involved in offsite document storage?

When it comes to the business benefits of offsite document storage, there’s no shortage of reasons to employ a professional storage facility. 

From space saving to streamlined organisation to guaranteed GDPR compliance, the majority of UK businesses could improve their working practices with the help of a certified document storage company.

However, document storage services aren’t free. And while they may result in massive savings in admin time and company resources, they still represent a cost to your business. 

So how much does document storage cost? 

The costs of offsite document storage will depend on several factors:

  •     The document storage company you choose
  •     The quantity of documents you wish to store
  •     How much access you’ll need to your documents while they’re in storage

Document storage costs will also depend on whether you require additional document management services, such as document scanning or destruction.

Document storage costs based on quantity

The vast majority of document storage companies charge by the box, which means the main factor determining your document storage costs will be the number of documents, and therefore boxes, that require storage.

While some companies will only charge for document storage on a yearly basis, most will quote for monthly storage. This gives organisations more flexibility, as they are not tied in to lengthy annual contracts, even though many documents are stored for a number of years.

Monthly storage costs can vary from as little as 20p to over £1 per box per month.

As with any business purchase, it’s never a bad idea to shop around and compare prices from a handful of prospective storage companies.

Document storage costs based on accessibility

While monthly rolling contracts are standard in the offsite document storage industry, most facilities will also give you the option of storing your files for a specified number of years if you will not need regular access to them.

This is commonly known as ‘deep storage’ or ‘archive storage’, and the minimal access means the price is significantly lower than other forms of document storage.

On the other hand, if you’re going to need regular access to your stored files, it’s going to be reflected in the storage costs.Needing all of your documents for tomorrow is obviously going to cost more than needing a few files next month. 

Many document storage companies offer document retrieval. This service allows you to retrieve one, some or all of your stored files from the storage facility.

This is typically done via phone call or email, but some storage facilities take care of everything via their online file management system. Your documents are barcoded, indexed and transported to the storage facility where they are securely stored. Throughout the whole process, you are able to trace, manage and retrieve all of your documents through an online system, all from the comfort of your own office.

This is the level of document storage service you can expect at Flexible Storage. Our online document management service is a FREE TO USE service, including all technical support. We offer you complete control of your stored documents, and retrieval couldn’t be easier – we can offer next day or emergency deliveries that can be with you in just a matter of hours, while our weekly deliveries are our most popular and most cost-effective service.

Choose the right offsite document storage company for your needs

Ultimately, choosing the right offsite document storage – not just the cheapest one – is really the key to ensuring you get the service you need.

Basing your decision solely on the lowest cost could put your confidential documents at risk if the storage facility, its staff or any other aspect of the document storage service is not up to scratch.

We know we said it earlier but it’s worth repeating – shop around, get as many quotes as you can and make sure you scrutinise each document storage prospect.

Does their service fulfil all of your document storage needs? What security does their facility have in place to protect your files? Are their staff fully trained and industry certified to handle sensitive data?

If they’re a storage facility worth their salt, all of this information relating to their service will be readily available on their website – just like it is with Flexible Storage’s document storage service.        

Get in touch with the Flexible Storage team today to receive a quote for your document storage needs.

Fire at Twinwoods Business Park Provides Another Self Storage Wakeup Call

Companies at Twinwoods Business Park are currently assessing the damage done by a devastating fire that broke out during the afternoon of November 1st.

The blaze started in a polystyrene factory on the Milton Ernest business estate and took over 60 fire-fighters from four counties to get the flames under control. 

The fire rapidly spread to two nearby buildings, sending huge plumes of thick, black smoke into the Bedford sky that could be seen for miles around. The fire even forced workers in the area to flee the business park and local roads were closed.

While the exact cause of the fire is still unknown, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue have since played down the likelihood of foul play:

“We do not believe the fire has been started deliberately and will now be carrying out further investigations, working both with the insurers and the companies affected,” commented Andy Draper, group commander at Bedford fire service.

Fire protection lessons to be learned 

While it’s fortunate that nobody was hurt during the inferno, the total cost of damage to property and goods is yet to be realised.

One group of people that will be assessing their losses will be customers of Storing.com whose storage facility was one of the other two buildings to succumb to the flames at Twinwoods Business Park.

In a situation reminiscent of the colossal fire at Shurgard’s Croydon storage depot that saw hundreds of stored belongings go up in smoke, this Storing.com blaze highlights the importance of using a storage facility that truly prioritises the safety of its customer’s stored items.

How can you protect your storage items from fire damage?

  •     Avoid warehouse-style storage facilities – the lack of partitions and strong airflow means that fires can spread much easier in open-plan buildings. While most storage facilities prohibit dangerous substances such as flammable liquids, there’s no way to comprehensively check every single item. As such, just one customer’s dangerous or flammable storage item may result in the destruction of all goods in the facility, as they’re all essentially stored in the same room.   
  •     Choose a storage facility that uses fireproof storage containers – steel containers will protect their contents from an external fire whilst also ‘containing’ any fires that may start within them. While storage containers do not guarantee complete protection, they significantly slow down the spread of a fire and give emergency services the precious time they need to get the blaze under control.
  •     Get self storage insurance – while there are some key precautions that you can take to minimise the risk of fire, it’s impossible to reduce the risk completely. It’s therefore very advisable to cover your stored goods with self storage insurance. The vast majority of household insurance policies will not cover your storage items so you’ll need to opt for storage-specific cover. This will protect your belongings from fire, water or any other damage. (Get a self storage insurance quote for your items today.)

A self storage facility you can trust

At Flexible Storage, we store all of our customers’ items in individual 2mm thick steel storage containers that are both water and fireproof. From fireproof file storage to 24 hour CCTV surveillance, we put the safety of your belongings first. Get in touch with one of our team today to discuss your secure storage options further and even receive a tailored quote.

What are the pros and cons of in-house shredding vs paper shredding services?

Paperwork – can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

It’s one of the modern age’s necessary inconveniences. And while there is a slow moving shift towards a more digitised, even paperless office, the fact is that businesses and organisations will be dealing with paperwork on a daily basis for years to come.

That means that the vast majority of modern companies are not only accumulating a significant amount of paperwork in their daily dealings, they also have to decide on the best way to securely destroy this confidential waste.

For most offices, this normally comes down to a decision between handling shredding on-site DIY-style or hiring a professional shredding service to take care of everything.   

In this post, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a shredding service, particularly when compared to disposing of confidential waste in-house.

As an organisation that needs to stay on top of both its expenditure and data security, it’s important to weigh up all pros and cons in order to decide on the best course of action for your business needs.

In-house Shredding

Pros

  •     Complete control of documents – if you choose to handle all confidential waste in-house, you won’t need to get any external services involved. This is great if you have the spare time and suitably trained staff, but not every organisation has that luxury.
  •     Minimal cost – professional shredding services aren’t free so bypassing them by processing confidential waste internally avoids that extra cost. This is often the case with smaller companies who only generate small amounts of paper waste.
  •     Shredding on demand – any confidential documents can be shredded immediately on-site. This timeliness can help reduce the risk of sensitive information getting lost or stolen.

Cons 

  •     Inefficient resource allocation – few organisations produce so little paper waste that they can proficiently handle shredding in-house. Most businesses deal with high volumes of paperwork that require significant time, personnel and financial commitments to properly process their confidential destruction.  
  •     Quality and cost of an office shredder – while a simple office shredder might not set you back that much, the chances are it may not be able to handle the quantities of paperwork required by the average office. Low-cost “strip-cut” shredders are also the least secure shredders, with many cases of highly confidential documents having been reconstructed from their disposed strips. More robust, industrial-style office shredders can be very expensive with high maintenance costs that many businesses can’t sustain.
  •     Increased risk of data breaches – while in-house shredding gives the organisation full control of their confidential waste disposal, many staff members will not have the appropriate training to handle and process sensitive documents in full compliance with GDPR regulations. Also, if paperwork isn’t shredded immediately after use, the improper storage of sensitive material on-site can also raise data security concerns.

Paper Shredding Services

Pros

  •     Increased productivity – with the time and effort of shredding paperwork being shouldered by an external shredding service, staff can focus on the work that really matters. Of course, the cost and time effectiveness of shredding all depends on the size of the organisation. If, like most businesses, you deal with high levels of paperwork on a daily basis, the chances are a professional shredding service is the most effective option for you.
  •     Ensured GDPR compliance – not only are the professional grade shredders of shredding services more efficient than office shredders, but their staff are also fully trained in the handling, processing and destruction of confidential waste. Since the introduction of strict new GDPR regulations in 2018, failing to secure the safe storage and destruction of your confidential material can result in significant penalties.
  •     Environmentally friendly – many companies that specialise in shredding confidential paperwork recycle almost all of their waste. With shredding services, you can save the planet while saving your business time and money too! (With Flexible Storage’s shredding partner, 0% of shredded paper waste is sent to landfill. This means that approximately 17 trees are saved for every tonne of paper waste recycled).

Cons

  •     Economies of scale – if you are a small organisation or you generate low quantities of paper waste on a daily basis, using a professional shredding service may not be cost-effective. You will therefore have to undertake a cost comparison of hiring a shredding service versus the time, money and energy it costs your business to handle confidential waste internally. For many smaller businesses, a confidential waste disposal bin may be the more cost-effective option.
  •     Storage and transport risks – while the staff of professional shredding services are highly trained in confidential waste handling and data protection protocol, there’s no way to reduce the risk of a data breach completely. Human error in this area is unavoidable but much less likely with qualified specialists than untrained office staff.
  •     A poor shredding service – a professional shredding service is only as good as the company that is carrying it out. While GDPR and other UK data protection laws are crystal clear on the appropriate way to manage confidential waste, not all shredding services live up to these standards. That’s why it is so important that – should you decide that your organisation could benefit from a shredding service – you do your due diligence to find the best shredding service for your business needs.

At Flexible Storage, we offer professional and flexible shredding services via our partner shredding and recycling company. Fully licensed with the Environment Agency and GDPR compliant, we can provide the most secure and convenient shredding service that can be tailored to your company’s specific needs.

Get in touch with our team today for more information about our shredding services and even receive a quote. 

Can you live in a self storage unit?

It’s a thought that crosses the minds of many people who visit a self storage facility – “I wonder if you could live in one of these things”. While most people laugh the idea off after imagining the massive inconvenience, some people have turned it into a reality.

All across the world there have been instances where storage facility staff have been tipped off or stumbled across people living in their storage unit. For example, a man in the US managed to live in a storage unit for two months before being evicted, documenting his intricate setup on his YouTube channel. 

While it may make for interesting viewing, it’s definitely not something we’d recommend at Flexible Storage Solutions. Not only is living in a storage unit illegal, it clearly compromises the security of the storage facility, as well as presents serious health and safety risks.

Can you sleep in a storage unit?

Of course, you CAN sleep in a storage unit but it doesn’t mean you should start living in one.

Many people spend a lot of time in their storage units; running businesses, organising their belongings, working on their artwork, and countless other reasons. While we’re not saying you can’t have a well-earned rest after a hard day’s work, we (and the law) draw the line at actually living in your unit, i.e. staying in your unit overnight is not allowed.

Some people may argue that because they’re renting the unit, surely they can do what they please with the space? Unfortunately, that’s not how storage facilities or the law works. Your rental contract will specify what you can and cannot use your storage unit for, including what items are forbidden, plus that most important of caveats – NO SLEEPING OR LIVING IN YOUR STORAGE UNIT.

The bottom line is that the storage facility is liable for any injuries or damage that may occur on its premises. A person living in a storage unit therefore puts the storage company at risk of legal action, not to mention the person at risk of injury or worse.      

So, let’s take a closer look at the legal side of it…

Is living in a storage unit legal in the UK?

The simple answer is no – it is illegal to live in a storage unit in the UK. The Fitness for Human Habitation Act 2018 is just the latest in a long line of UK laws that specify the legal requirements a building must have in order for it to be inhabitable by humans.

These requirements relate to many aspects of a building, such as its structure and integrity, pests and vermin, and damp and mould growth. When it comes to living in a storage unit, the most relevant aspects of these laws pertain to:

  •     Natural light availability
  •     Ventilation
  •     Hot and cold water supply
  •     Drainage and sanitary facilities

While some storage units may have ventilation systems, the vast majority of units will not meet any of the other legal requirements in order to qualify for human habitation. 

In most cases, a storage unit will be a single room or container and will most probably have an adequate electrical supply. No windows, no water supply, no toilets, no heating. In other words, not fit for a person to live in.

How storage facilities can prevent people living in their storage units

While we understand that some people may think about moving into a storage facility out of desperation, as we’ve explained above, it really isn’t a safe or suitable place for a person to live.

There are several things that a storage facility can do to both deter people from living in a unit as well as offering help at the same time:

  •     Make it clear in your rental contract – it should be crystal clear in your agreement that living in storage facilities is strictly forbidden. Emphasise the consequences if this stipulation is not adhered to and get the renter to initial the caveat so that they are fully aware of the expectation.
  •     Use CCTV to keep a watchful eye on your facility – camera surveillance should be used to monitor the entirety of your facility 24/7. Only having cameras monitoring the perimeter of your premises will leave you blind to what’s going on inside.
  •     Conduct regular premises checks – having staff perform regular checks on all storage areas may help pick up on smaller things that a security camera can’t, such as suspicious wiring running out of a unit. Training should be provided so all staff know what to look out for.
  •     Keep leaflets for local shelters/homeless charities in the office – helpful literature such as this may be able to point someone considering moving into their storage in the right direction. Just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean businesses should be insensitive to the unfortunate circumstances of some of its customers.

So, there you have it – now you know the reasons why you can’t live in a storage unit and the precautions that storage facilities can take to prevent it.

At Flexible Storage, we take the safety and security of our facility – and all belongings and people within it – incredibly seriously. With secure water and fireproof steel storage units, 24/7 CCTV surveillance and highly trained staff, you can rest assured that your storage items are in the safest possible hands.

Get in touch with the Flexible Storage team today to learn more about our professional storage facility, or even discuss what tailored storage services will work best for you. 

How to Prevent Mould and Mildew in a Storage Unit

We’ve all been there – opening up a box that’s long been stored under the stairs or in the loft, eagerly hoping to retrieve that vintage jacket or family photo album, only to find it ruined by mould or mildew.

As well as damaging valuable belongings and causing horrible smells, both mould and mildew can damage your health too.

It’s for these reasons that you need to ensure your storage unit is as mould and mildew proof as possible. This post will provide expert storage tips and outline the necessary precautions you should take to keep your belongings safe during long-term storage.  

What exactly are mould and mildew? 

Mould and mildew are both types of fungi that thrive in warm, moist and humid environments. Whilst most commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms, they can and will grow anywhere that is warm and has moisture, including on fabrics, wood, stone and even plastic.

Whilst sharing many similar properties, mould and mildew do have some notable differences:

  •     Mould – a fungus that can be various colours, including brown, blue, green and yellow, but is most typically black. Mould also generally has a furry or slimy texture, and is a bigger threat to human health than mildew.
  •     Mildew – a fungus that is typically grey or white in colour. It generally grows in flat patches, has a powdery texture and a notable musty smell.

Whether it’s mould or mildew, you’ll want to make sure you protect your storage items from all potentially dangers. Let’s start with your storage unit… 

Storage unit considerations 

  •     Airflow – when it comes to preventing mould and mildew in your storage unit, moisture is the enemy. These fungi thrive in moist environments so maintaining proper airflow is crucial in a storage unit. Avoid pushing boxes and larger items against each other and the unit’s walls. Keeping space between items helps air circulate and keeps the storage unit dry. 
  •     Off the floor – this is especially the case if your storage unit has a concrete floor, as concrete is porous and can draw up moisture from the ground. While this is much less of a problem if your storage unit is a metal container (as with Flexible Storage self storage units), it is still advisable to use shelves and cabinets in your unit, as well as covering the floor with wooden pallets. This will keep your stuff off the floor and the air circulating effectively.
  •     Humidity levels – while this may not be as big a consideration in the UK as it is in warmer climates, it’s important to ensure that the humidity level inside your storage unit does not exceed 50%. Keeping a hygrometer in your storage unit and regularly checking it will help you gauge whether you need to take action on warm days, such as using a dehumidifier. 
  •     Regularly check your unit – you should never leave your storage items for long periods of time. Make it a habit to check up on your storage unit at least once a month, assessing your belongings for any early signs of mould or mildew. Even just opening up your storage unit and moving some items around will allow air to flow and help you better inspect your possessions. 

Now that you know the things to look out for regarding your storage unit, here are some professional packing tips to protect your belongings from mould and mildew…

Packing considerations

  •     Proper storage materials – unfortunately, if you want to ensure your items are as safe as possible, plastic bin bags or old delivery boxes just aren’t going to cut it. The only way to guarantee the maximum amount of protection is to use purpose-built storage materials such as robust cardboard boxes, industrial bubble wrap and hardy furniture covers.  
  •     Dry items thoroughly – it’s imperative that every item you put into storage is 100% dry. Just one small damp item could spell disaster for your entire storage unit, as mould and mildew will quickly contaminate other items. Clothing and upholstery are particularly at risk as they can easily retain moisture. Be vigilant when cleaning your belongings before putting them into long-term storage, and give them plenty of time to dry.
  •     Pack desiccators – one of the best ways to minimise the levels of moisture in your storage unit is to utilise moisture-absorbing agents called desiccators. The most commonly used desiccators are silica gel packets, but can also include salt, rice and even cat litter. Desiccators should be packed alongside the contents of boxes and cabinets, as well as placed freely in an open container inside the storage unit.     
  •     Avoid plastic covers – many people make the mistake of covering storage items in plastic covers. While they may be useful to protect clothes in your wardrobe from dust, they tend to trap moisture, which is terrible for long-term storage. Cardboard or paper covers are much more preferable as they allow air to circulate, helping your storage items breathe.

Choose your storage unit with care

So there you have it – top tips on how to prevent mould and mildew in a storage unit. Where you store your belongings is just as important as how you pack them. It’s crucial that you choose a storage facility that has your best interests at heart.

At Flexible Storage, we always put the safety of our customer’s belongings first. Our fire and waterproof steel self storage units will keep your possessions safe, while our professional packing materials can help keep them in the best possible condition. With 24-7 CCTV surveillance and 365 day customer access, all eyes will be on your stored items to provide the maximum level of protection.

For more advice on how to pack a storage unit, get in touch with our friendly team today. One of our professional storage consultants can talk you through your self storage options and even provide you with a tailored quote.

GDPR Fines UK: What You Need to Know About GDPR Non-Compliance

The introduction of EU-wide GDPR legislation has ushered in a new era of stringent data security, compelling UK organisations to make data protection a distinct priority like never before.  

While we don’t want to cover old ground by stressing the importance of GDPR compliance (or even how GDPR can actually benefit your business), we want to take a look at the real-world consequences of failing to uphold data protection laws.

After all, these regulations have been put in place to protect all of our personal data, securing both individual privacy and business confidentiality. It’s in all of our interest that data protection is upheld to the full extent of the law.

Has anyone been fined for a GDPR breach? 

Yes – since GDPR was implemented in May 2018, the ICO (the UK’s independent national data protection authority) has been busy taking action against over 100 organisations in both the private and public sector.

These actions include issuing undertakings, enforcement notices and even prosecutions, but the majority of penalties include imposing monetary fines.

Notable GDPR breach fines so far:

  •     Carphone Warehouse, January 2018 – £400,000 fine after serious security failures put both customer and employee data at risk.
  •     Facebook, July 2018 – £500,000 fine (the maximum at the time) over the Cambridge Analytica scandal where the personal data of millions of Facebook users was used without their consent for political advertising.
  •     Bupa, September 2018 – £175,000 for failing to implement security measure that would effectively protect their customers’ personal information.
  •     Heathrow Airport, October 2018 – £120,000 fine for failing to secure the personal data held on its network.
  •     Uber, November 2018 – £385,000 fine for failing to protect their customers’ and drivers’ personal information during a cyber attack.
  •     British Airways, July 2019 – £183 million fine for a data breach that compromised the personal details of approximately 500,000 customers.
  •     Marriott International, July 2019 – £99 million fine for failing to protect the personal data of roughly 339 million guests.

For a full list of organisations and companies fined under GDPR please refer to the ICO’s enforcement action page.

How much is a GDPR fine?

The most annoying of all answers – it depends. While pre-May 2018 data protection legislation capped the maximum fine for a breach to £500,000 (see Facebook fine above), GDPR introduced a much stricter, two-tier fines system that related to the offending company’s revenue: 

  1.     Up to €10 million, or 2% of annual global turnover – whichever is higher; or
  2.     Up to €20 million, or 4% of annual global turnover – whichever is higher.

Maximum fine for GDPR

As shown above, the maximum fine a company can be fined for GDPR non-compliance is €20 million or 4% of that company’s annual worldwide revenue. This penalty can be applied to any failure to comply with any of GDPR’s data protection principles.

So, if we look at the case of the British Airways data breach mentioned above, the £183 million sum they faced was the result of a 1.5% fine by the ICO on their global turnover. If the ICO had chosen to enforce the maximum 4% fine, British Airways could have faced a bill of approximately £489 million!

While this example may highlight the lenience that the ICO can exercise when investigating GDPR breaches, it also stresses the very considerable and very real fines that can and are being enforced in the UK.    

Can individuals be fined under GDPR? 

Yes – the EU specifically states that GDPR legislation “regulates the processing by an individual, a company or an organisation of personal data relating to individuals in the EU.” These data protection regulations apply to any individual or organisation that uses another party’s data “outside the personal sphere, (such as) for socio-cultural or financial activities.”

There have already been dozens of individuals who have faced punitive action by the ICO as a direct result of data protection violations and GDPR non-compliance (the Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK’s implementation of GDPR). In most cases, this involved prosecution, which typically resulted in hefty fines, coverings costs and victim surcharges.

At Flexible Storage, our document storage services are fully compliant with GDPR regulations, so you know your documents will be in the safest possible hands. Get in touch with one of our professional storage consultants today to see how we can help you protect your confidential data, avoid any fines and keep your company operating at maximum potential. 

How safe are shredding services?

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times – you need to look after your confidential waste. This applies to domestic paperwork as much as it does to business documents.

Leaving your sensitive paperwork in a drawer at home or a cabinet at the office will quickly lead to clutter, confusion and – worst of all possible scenarios – compromising your personal and commercial data security.

Shredding for security

When it comes to protecting your physical documents, shredding is by far the safest, simplest and most convenient way to destroy sensitive material.

In other posts, we’ve covered what sensitive documents need to be shredded, the reasons why they should be shredded and what you should do with the shredded waste.

While there’s little argument over the effectiveness of shredding in principle, in practice it’s only as effective as the company that is carrying it out. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at the different types of shredding services currently available on the market so that you can be sure that you’re choosing the safest one possible.

High street shops

One of the cheapest shredding options is to take your confidential documents to an office supplies, stationery or printing shop. A common sight on high streets and in shopping centres up and down the UK, they offer the use of their shredders or facilitate the shredding of your documents by a third party.

While this service appears cost-effective and efficient on the surface, behind-the-scenes security is often lacking. Sensitive paperwork is often left unlocked in store cupboards for days at a time. There have even been instances where burglars have specifically targeted the shredding bags; a testament to how valuable confidential data is to modern criminals.

The reality is that these types of high street shredding services, while relatively cheap, do not have the highly trained staff or stringent security standards that professional shredding services have. If you want to be sure that your confidential waste is professionally handled and securely shredded, you’d be well advised to look elsewhere…

Professional shredding & recycling centres

If you want to get true peace of mind when destroying confidential waste, you’ll need to look to the pros. Professional shredding facilities have the expertise, experience and industry accreditations to provide you with the most secure service possible.

Unlike a high street shop or small-scale office shredder, shredding facilities have industrial shredders that completely pulverise documents, CDs, credit cards and many other confidential materials.

Some of the best companies can even save you the trouble of moving your paperwork by collecting your files from your office or your document storage facility.

Confidential Waste Console

Confidential waste disposal bins are also another great way to ensure your business documents are safely stored and securely destroyed. These lockable bins collect sensitive office paperwork and can be regularly emptied and shredded by your shredding service provider. While this is not particularly relevant to domestic users, it’s a great way for businesses to stay on top of their confidential waste with minimum effort. 

Choosing the safest shredding service

So now that you know the benefits of a professional shredding service, you’re going to need to know how to spot the best shredding service provider out there. There are a handful of qualifications and indicators that a shredding company should have to ensure they are offering the safest possible service.

If the shredding service provider does not have all of the following industry accreditations, you should definitely think twice before entrusting them with your confidential waste. Even if they are offering an unbelievably cheap service, you may end up paying a much higher price in the long run.

Shredding service checklist: 

  •     Certificate of Destruction for peace of mind
  •     Waste Carriers Licence from the Environmental Agency
  •     DBS checked staff to ensure secure and professional handling
  •     GDPR & Data Protection compliant
  •     BS EN 15713:2009 accreditation for the Secure Destruction of Confidential Waste
  •     ISO 9001/ISO 27001/ISO 14001 accreditations for quality management and environmental responsibility.
  •     Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) compliance

Flexible Storage’s shredding service is fully aligned and compliant with all of the above qualifications and regulations. As well as adhering to the highest possible industry standards, 100% of their shredded waste is recycled at a licensed UK paper mill. In fact, for every tonne of paper waste that they recycle, approximately 17 trees are saved!

Get in touch with the Flexible Storage team today to see how a professional, safe and cost-effective shredding service can benefit you.