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.

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. 

London Area Tradespeople: Keep Your Tools Safe With Self Storage

Keeping your tools safe and secure when not in use is something that almost every tradesperson worries about. Investing in a large van that can accommodate all of your equipment might seem like the most straightforward solution but it can often be far from the most secure. Storing your tools in a work van around the clock puts your expensive equipment at serious risk of theft. It’s a classic case of putting all of your eggs in one basket and tool thieves are very much aware of the easy pickings to be had.

With tool thefts on the rise, choosing to use a self-storage unit is a more effective way to protect your tools and and your trade. In fact, according to the Self Storage Association, more than 70% of those who use the facilities own a business with ten employees or less, proving how useful they have become for tradespeople, sole traders and small businesses.

Rising Crime

Van tool security is a major concern for tradespeople in London. A report by Simply Business claimed that 98% of those working in a trade were worried about the potential for theft from their unattended vans. It was estimated that in 2016 alone, tool thefts cost UK workmen a total of £94,521,600 – money that most honest, hard-working traders can’t afford to lose.

The staggering figure was discovered by Trade Direct Insurance, who claimed that tool theft was more of an issue for the self-employed than late payments and tax rises. They also estimated that around 215 tradespeople were a victim of theft each day in the UK.

Alternative Solutions to Van Tool Security

Self-storage units – such as the ones provided by Flexible Storage – are the most secure solution. With security features including CCTV surveillance, industrial strength locks and access-controlled gates, our service offers excellent peace of mind for those workers who require maximum protection for their expensive equipment.

They also have some other great business benefits too…

London’s New Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

For example, from 8 April 2019 April, vans in London emissions zones will be subject to even tighter restrictions in the city than have previously been enforced. If you don’t have to use your van to store your entire tool catalogue, you should consider downsizing your work vehicle to one that meets the new emission standards, so that you won’t have to pay a daily charge to travel between jobs in the City.

Smaller businesses may even be able to take part in the Mayor of London’s new scrappage scheme, which has funding in place to enable those workers who regularly drive vans in London emissions zones to switch their heavily polluting vehicles for electric cars. In the new ULEZ rules that are attempting to reduce the pollution levels in the heart of the city, vans with high pollution emissions will have to pay £12.50 a day. This poses a significant potential financial hit for many tradespeople who spend the majority of their time in London. However, if successful, the new scrappage scheme will benefit both London’s tradespeople and the wider environment, which can only be a good thing.

Easily Accessible for Tradespeople in London

Another great advantage of self-storage is that it gives you an accessible place to pick-up your tools at any time of the day or night. Coded access gates allow customers to access their tools 24/7 while water and fireproof units keep them protected from the elements, which is essential in order to keep them in the best working order. From electricians and plumbers to builders and decorators, most tradespeople do not require all of their tools on every job they do. As such, tradespeople require quick and easy access to their equipment while also knowing that any tools in storage are safe and maintained in the best possible condition.

When you do need to grab your tools for a job or store them away for the night, you can drive your vehicle right up to your unit and load it up, making the transition easy and fuss-free.

A Cost-Effective Tool Storage Solution

While it is impossible to put a price on the safety of your livelihood, renting a storage unit might not be as expensive as you think. Most contracts are flexible, so that you can upgrade and downsize your unit as necessary, depending on the seasonal demand or the growth of your business.

You might even choose to team up with another tradesperson, hiring a unit together in order to keep costs down. Cheaper than building your own version of Fort Knox in your back garden and safer than keeping tools in your van, contact the Flexible Storage team today to receive a quote for your tools.

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.

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!

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Paperless Office?

For many businesses, the paperless office seems to be one of those concepts promised in the 80s that has never really come to fruition, along with hover-boards and 8-minute abs.

In theory the paperless office sounds great – no need for any more paper files, cumbersome filing cabinets or bursting storage cupboards. All documents are digitised, floating in the cloud and instantly accessible – anytime, anywhere.

In practice though, things aren’t quite that simple. Today, business practices and legal compliance make it necessary to store documents for long periods of time. There are also serious questions being raised around the security of online systems, and many businesses do not have the time, budget or ability to transfer their entire document archive into digital form.

To help clear the air, we have listed the main advantages and disadvantages of a paperless office so that you can decide how realistic it is for your business.

Advantages of a paperless office

Saves storage space

It’s pretty simple – less documents means less space needed to store them. While many of us deal with online documents on a daily basis, paper files still play a crucial role in our day-to-day working lives. If 100% of these files were online, there would be no more need for physical storage space. In crowded cities such as London, space saving is an advantage that can’t be underestimated.

Easily accessible

No need to go rummaging through the office paper mountain to find that one business record. With a paperless office, all files are accessible with just a few clicks of your mouse. As long as you have Internet connection and the files have been correctly stored, a digitised document system will improve efficiency and save a great deal of time searching.

Environmentally friendly

As the name suggests, a paperless office should produce no paper waste. This is great news for trees and the environment as a whole. Nothing will need to be printed so printers are redundant, saving even more energy. These all contribute to reducing your office’s carbon footprint.

Disadvantages of a paperless office

Security risks and viruses

Probably the number one concern around a paperless office is the security risks associated with transferring the entire document trail of your business into digital form. Cyber security software is constantly playing catch-up with online fraudsters. Paperless offices share data via online networks that are increasingly susceptible to hacking and damaging viruses. Much of the data and files stored online by businesses – especially those in the medical, legal and financial industries – contains highly sensitive information that could be incredibly damaging if they fell into the wrong hands.

Installing security software that properly encrypts data can be complicated and very costly. Most data security platforms charge by the month with prices that increase with the amount of data storage you use. These costs can quickly add up and there’s no guarantee that they’re secure from all cyber attacks.

Dependence on technology

A paperless office requires all of your files and data to be stored on hard drives and increasingly in online cloud storage. This works as long as your electronics do. If there is a problem with your online system, Internet connection or even power supply, then you will not be able to access any of your documents. Backing up your important files is always advisable but many businesses either forgot to do it or lack the capability.

Environmentally friendly?

Even though most businesses around the world have taken paper-reducing measures over recent years, global paper usage is not actually reducing at any great rate, according to Andrew Morrison, managing director at Xerox UK and Ireland. This is by no means a call for office-based UK businesses to abandon paper-saving efforts but suggests that other sectors of the economy should be carrying their fair share too.

While paper waste may be significantly reduced, a paperless office will still need to dispose of its electronic equipment from time to time. These items contain dangerous chemicals and are often made of unrecyclable plastics. Improper disposal of such equipment can have very damaging effects on the environment so make sure you dispose of your electronics responsibly.

The verdict

The reality is that a “paperless office” is currently just a buzzword. For the foreseeable future, there will always be a practical need to handle paper in the vast majority of modern businesses. Legal documents still need to be signed, wills and deeds have to be retained and even items as small as receipts will have to be collected. All of these documents will need to be stored somewhere where they are systemised, secure and accessible.

So, how can Flexible Storage help?

  • Storing your documents at our archiving centre will free up space in your office as well as ensure they are always protected and stored in compliance with GDPR and data protection laws.
  • Our online file management service makes it easy for you to retrieve and manage your indexed files, so accessibility need not be a problem.
  • Once you no longer need your documents we can have them professionally shredded where 100% of paper waste is recycled. Alternatively, you can rent our confidential waste consoles to collect all of your paper waste. They’ll keep your sensitive documents secure until they can be collected for complete, confidential destruction.

Get in touch with our friendly team today to see how our document storage services can keep your paperwork safe while saving your business space, time and money.

Fireproof Self Storage – a wakeup call from a warehouse fire

The New Year got off to the worst possible start for a self-storage warehouse in Croydon as it suffered a devastating fire. Twenty fire engines and around 120 fire fighters attended the scene at the Shurgard depot on New Year’s Eve and were not able to fully extinguish the fire until the following evening.

From domestic items and sentimental belongings to business documents and materials, hundreds of customers were shocked to find that their supposedly secure items had gone up in flames in a matter of hours.     

Self Storage Fire Protection

While the cause of the fire is still unknown, questions have been raised around the protection that self-storage facilities can provide from fires. Warehouse style facilities such as the one in this unfortunate incident are designed to be open-plan which makes it incredibly easy for fires to escalate. The lack of walls that go to the top of units allows fires to easily spread from unit to unit while the strong airflow only serves to feed the flames.

The fact that the vast majority of storage facilities cater to both personal and business customers, and store a wide range of items and materials, makes it difficult to clearly assess fire risks. Some of the most common items stored in storage facilities include wooden furniture as well as vast amounts of paperwork in document storage.

This disaster only highlights the importance of using a storage facility that truly prioritises the security of its customers’ stored items – not only from theft and vandalism but also from fire and water damage too.

Fire Resistant Storage Containers

The most effective way to ensure your belongings are protected from fire damage is to store them in a facility that uses fire resistant storage containers. Unlike open-plan warehouse storage facilities, containers fully enclose storage items. Should a fire break out, it will be contained to the steel container and prevented from spreading to any other storage items in the immediate vicinity. The lack of airflow stunts the fire and prevents it from spreading at an unmanageable rate, giving on-site staff and emergency services the precious time they need to control it.

Self Storage Insurance

For added peace of mind, it’s always advisable to make sure your items are covered with Self Storage Insurance. If your belongings are worth storing, they are worth insuring. Most household insurance policies do not cover goods in storage, so opting for an insurance policy specifically designed to cover self-storage items will ensure your belongings are fully protected from fire, water or any other type of damage. Get an insurance quote for your self-storage items online today.  

Fire Prevention Best Practices

The reality is that there is no way to completely reduce the risk of fires in storage facilities. People store so many different types of items, files and materials that it’s essentially impossible for storage staff to know exactly what is in each unit. However, there are many safeguards that these facilities can put in place to ensure the risk of fire is as low as could possibly be. If you want to ensure that your belongings are protected whilst in storage, it’s your choice as a customer to opt for a storage facility that has clearly taken these necessary and vital precautions.   

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.  

How can storage facilities benefit start-ups and small businesses?

Running a business can often be daunting when you first start out. From licensing to taxes, financing to insurance, you’re going to need to keep many plates spinning if you want your business to succeed. It’s hard to keep on top of everything yourself or even within a small team, but there are effective ways to streamline your operations and reduce avoidable costs.

One of the best ways is to take advantage of a storage facility. This might not be the best option for every business but storage facilities offer a range of valuable services for businesses that go far beyond locks and bolts. In this post, we will outline the key benefits available to businesses from using storage facilities, especially for smaller companies and start-ups.

Flexible Contracts

In order to prosper, start-ups and SMEs need to be able to expand and contract. High turnover of staff, uncertain financing and seasonal fluctuations in stock all demand a great deal of flexibility in smaller companies. Operating your business from your home can be messy and inefficient whilst renting an office space or traditional lock up ties you in to lengthy contracts and can be very costly.

Using a storage facility allows you to quickly and cheaply adapt to changes in demand, financing and other commercial variables that influence your trade. Unlike commercial leases that bind you to long-term contracts, storage facilities give you the flexibility to rent more or less storage space for limited periods of time or indefinitely. Short-term rolling contracts keep costs to an absolute minimum while allowing you to quickly adapt to your business demands – expansion has never been easier! This flexibility saves you valuable time, energy and – most importantly for a burgeoning business – money.  

Cost Saving

Running a business from your kitchen table keeps costs low, without a doubt. However, it won’t be long before you outgrow your home and a space for all of your stock, materials and business documents becomes a necessity. Similarly, renting an office at a business park may offer you the required space but it inevitably comes at a high cost – often too high for most new companies.

Establishing a storage unit as your business headquarters is perfect for non-customer facing trades. Not only do you benefit from the extra space and lower costs, most storage facilities happily accept deliveries on your behalf, with some even unloading your deliveries directly into your storage unit. Customer service doesn’t come much better than that!

Basing your company at a self-storage facility has the added benefit of avoiding paying business rates. A legal obligation for most non-domestic properties such as traditional warehouse units, firms operating out of storage units avoid this cost as the Valuation Office Agency deems only the operator of the storage company liable for the payment of business rates.

Security

A major benefit of keeping your stock, tools, materials and documents in a storage facility is the peace of mind knowing they’re securely stored. Unlike a residential garage or traditional lock-up, storage facilities have fire and waterproof containers, CCTV surveillance and on-site staff. However, this heightened level of security does not impede access as customers can easily come and go using access-controlled gates, activated by unique codes or phone number recognition.       

Document Storage & Management

It’s not only self-storage units that can massively benefit SMEs; some storage facilities offer additional services that will ensure you keep on top of all that paperwork. As you are more than aware, running a business involves masses of documentation, which will only grow with your company. Much of it needs to be securely stored for years at a time to comply with legal or tax laws, especially since the recent changes to GDPR.

Storing your business documents and records at a storage facility ensures their safety, allows you to easily manage them, and also keeps your office or working space free from clutter and sensitive material. The best storage facilities offer a document management service that scans and indexes your files to make it as easy as possible for you to retrieve important documents when you need to.

When your documents reach their compliance expiration date or are no longer useful to you, certain storage facilities can even securely dispose of your confidential waste with their shredding services. What more could a small and aspiring business ask for?

Business types that could most benefit from storage services:

  •      Removals
  •      Retailers & e-commerce
  •      Events
  •      Importers/exporters
  •      Builders/construction
  •      Ebay sellers
  •      Marketing
  •      Theatre companies
  •      Furniture

Whatever your storage needs, our self-storage, document storage and shredding services will allow you to focus on your business in a clutter free, cost-effective working space. For help choosing the best services for your business, get in touch today.

Quick GDPR checklist for the big day

And so it begins. The mad rush for companies to ensure their compliance with the GDPR before it comes into full force on the 25th of May. Indeed, the rush is so mad that the term ‘GDPR’ is currently being Googled even more than Beyoncé. While these may be troubling times for certain pop stars, we hope that those who are frantically-Googling have covered most of their bases by now. If you haven’t, well, get ready to tap into that “doing all of your school homework on the last day of your summer holidays” mindset (a great start would be reading our previous blog post about what the GDPR is and how it works)! But for most companies, today will simply involve running some checks and making sure that everything has been put in place and is ready to go. As such, we have put together a quick checklist for you to run through before GDPR is officially implemented. Try not to panic too much!

  • Have you formulated and documented a full account of what personal data is held by your company, where the information came from, and who it is shared with (if anyone)?
  • Does the way your company processes data take into account and respect all the individual rights help by your customers, as outlined in the GDPR?
  • Do you have the necessary provisions in place for deleting personal data or providing it in a clear and accessible format should a customer request as such?
  • Have you determined whether or not the methods used by your company to obtain, process, store and retain personal data is in accordance with the GDPR?
  • Is your company’s data retention policy (i.e. the amount of time your company stores personal data) up to GDPR standard and are your customers aware of this?
  • Do you have an updated privacy policy in place, and does it include all details about how your company collects, uses and protects customer information, the choices that your customers have with regards to their own data, as well as their rights and controls?
  • Have your customers been made aware of any changes to the way your company is collecting, organising, storing or altering their personal data?
  • Furthermore, are the most important employees in your company aware of the new regulation and any new responsibilities they may have as a result?
  • Is the way in which your company records and manages consent in line with the GDPR, with customers being told what their consent entails and informed about their right to withdraw content before opting in?
  • Does your company require a data privacy impact assessments (DPIA) and, if so, have you figured out how you would go about conducting one?
  • Likewise, does your company need a data protection officer and, if so, how will you go about recruiting and managing them once they are a part of the company?
  • Is your company equipped and prepared to handle data breaches in a timely manner and with procedures that meet the new reporting obligations outlined in the GDPR?

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At Flexible Storage, we are fully compliant with the GDPR and will be happy to take this load off your shoulders. When you outsource document storage to a company that has knowledge and experience with data protection, you can focus on the growth and success of your business rather than matters of compliance. Get in touch with one of our professional storage consultants for a quote!

Is cloud storage safe for your company?

In the past, people didn’t always trust their banks. They wondered why anyone would be foolhardy enough to place their hard earned valuables in the hands of someone else – instead, they chose to stuff them in the mattress, hide them in a safe, or just invest cash straight away. Nowadays we don’t have bandits roaming the streets, and the idea that our homes are safer than the banks is almost laughable.

However, when it comes to data, companies are often carry this old-fashioned mindset, choosing to store data on personal servers rather than entrust it to the cloud. Are they right? Is it safer than other options? And finally, what can you do to maximise your security?

How secure is the cloud?

The term “the cloud” is a little misleading, hinting at an intrinsically fluffy nature. However, the security of cloud based systems is generally regarded by IT experts to be safer for businesses than legacy systems. Not only is the data more physically secure, sitting within remote, guarded data centres, it’s also highly encrypted, making it impossible to comprehend without an encryption key.

A huge benefit of cloud storage is that at least three copies of your data will be kept on at least three different servers. This built-in redundancy means that all the servers would have to fail simultaneously for the data to disappear, the odds of which make a lottery win look pretty likely in comparison. Even if this were to happen, the data can be normally be recovered in a couple of days.

Who owns the key?

The cloud should really be called “some clouds” or, more accurately, “a disparate collection of independent remote servers of varying security”, to reflect the fact that there are a number of companies able to store your data. Unfortunately, neither of these terms are quite as catchy and so the myth prevails that one rule applies to all systems. In reality, the owner of the encryption key will vary depending on the provider. Most companies will keep the key themselves, allowing their systems to access their data for indexing. This means that you’re able to search through your documents whilst using their servers, as well as access them with the simple provision of a password.

For those who wish to trade convenience for an additional layer of security, certain companies will hand ownership of the encryption key directly to the user. As part of this trade-off, users are required to upload and download files through service-specific client applications, many of which contain encryption functions.

It should be noted that neither system is truly impenetrable, keeping your keys at someone else’s house always carries the risk that they can be taken without the owner noticing. Likewise, if you lose the keys (or your password) while they’re with you, all your data will be rendered irretrievable.

How best to protect yourself

When it comes to protecting your personal data, a good approach is to use your own encryption software to safeguard your files before uploading them to a service that keeps ownership of encryption keys. This way you get the best of both worlds, combining convenient access with peace of mind. If you truly want to maximise your security, consider using authenticated encryption – this requires some technical knowledge but allows you to see whether any modifications have been made in the metadata of the file.

Bear in mind that sharing and collaborative services will be rendered unusable by additional encryption. It’s up to you to decide whether the risk is worth the reward. Just bear in mind that the majority of businesses rely on the cloud providers to provide security – the vast majority encountering no issues.

What other options are available?

Keeping physical backups seems to go against the whole principle of the cloud. After all, isn’t the cloud essentially one huge backup? However, think of the cloud more as a means of reaching your digital files no matter where you are. An addition to, rather than a substitution for existing storage solutions. What the cloud can’t do, however, is house your existing physical documents. Fortunately for you, Flexible Storage offers all the benefits of cloud based storage, just from the confines of high security, CCTV-monitored, security grade, hardened steel vaults. When needed, documents can be retrieved by vetted professionals, scanned and securely sent, regardless of location.

At the end of the day, how you store your data is entirely up to you. The cloud is becoming larger and more popular with every passing day, and can be a valuable tool businesses of any size. However, it’s always worth keeping your own copies files safe and sound, just in case the worse comes to worst. Failing that, you could just stuff them in the mattress…

With various packages on offer alongside data management, scanning, and shredding services, our priority is to meet the long and short term needs of your company while keeping all your documents as safe and secure as possible. Feel free to get in touch to make an appointment and discuss your requirements with one of our friendly storage consultants.