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 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. 

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.

What Should You Do with Shredded Documents?

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 As we have discussed before, securely destroying outdated or unnecessary documentation is incredibly important but what do you do with your paperwork once it has been shredded?

On-Site Shredding

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

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

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

Waste paper in an office bin

Compost your shredded paperwork

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

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

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

Mix It Up With Shredding

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

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

Outsourcing Shredding

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

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

Securely stored in waste consoles

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

Environmentally friendly shredding

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clear out the Clutter

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

Downsize Your Storage

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

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

Take Advantage of Document Storage

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

Make a Floor Plan of your new Office

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

Plan Internet and Phoneline Relocation in Advance

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

Get Staff involved

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

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

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

What business documents should be shredded?

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

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

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

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

General Office Paperwork

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

Law Firms

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

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

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

Other Industries

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

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

In summary…

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

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

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

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.

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.

Why you should shred sensitive documents

Despite living in the age of the Internet, many individuals and businesses still need to store sensitive information in its physical paper form. From tax returns to bank statements, credit card information to sales receipts, confidential paperwork builds up over time. These documents need to be disposed of securely when they are no longer needed.

Even if your files have been in storage for years and are no longer accurate or relevant to you or your business, there is still a significant risk of a data breach if they are disposed of improperly. Read on to see why shredding your confidential documents should be a top priority for any responsible person or company.

It prevents identity theft

As online data security becomes increasingly sophisticated, so too does the appeal of sensitive paper documentation to identity thieves. Any document that contains personal information can be used by criminals to steal your identity, and having such information on paper allows criminals to bypass the complexities of online security systems.

Credit card details, telephone numbers and home addresses are all prized by identity thieves, who can easily find this information by rummaging through carelessly disposed of rubbish. However, it is virtually impossible to decipher sensitive files once they have been shredded using high-grade shredders.

The average shredder (known as strip-cut shredders) are often not adequate when it comes to confidential documents – only certain types of shredding ensures that the shredded document cannot be reassembled. Alternatively, if you’re not about to go and buy a CIA-ready shredder for your home, you might want to consider using a professional shredding service with industrial-grade shredders and pulverisers.

It saves time

One of the most precious things to both individuals and companies alike is time. It often feels like there are not enough hours in the day to complete everything you had intended to do. Why not let someone else take on the burden of responsibility when disposing of your confidential documents?

Employing the services of a professional shredding company will save you valuable time, effort and money. This allows you to focus more of your time and resources on the things that really matter, such as the growth and profitability of your company.

It’s sustainable

Shredding your sensitive documents is the best way to dispose of confidential material, but it’s also environmentally friendly. Shredded paperwork is perfect for recycling and can be easily bagged up and disposed of.

Many companies offering document-shredding services recycle 100% of the waste they collect, which prevents it from going to landfill and polluting the environment. Such environmental concerns should be a matter of priority for the modern business owner, and implementing sustainable practices will likely reduce the overhead costs of running a business too!

It’s legally compliant

All businesses are duty-bound to keep client information secure by law. Governments all over the world are tightening up regulations regarding information privacy and protection, as well as enforcing strict penalties on any companies that fail to comply with security standards. Perhaps the most notable example is the recent GDPR.

Complying with data protection laws will not only prevent any reputation-damaging legal problems, but also give you and your customers’ peace of mind – you can’t put a price on that!

It saves space

Whether your documents are piling up at your home, your office or in a storage facility, any space taken up by useless files is space wasted. It’s inhibitive, impractical and often a terrible eyesore. Free up some room by shredding the unnecessary documents that have been cluttering up your already limited living, working and storage spaces. After all, it’s never too late for a bit of spring cleaning!

If you think that you or your company could benefit from a document shredding service that is safe and sustainable, please get in touch with one of our friendly storage consultants for a quote. More information on our various shredding services can also be found here.

What are shredding consoles and how can they benefit your business?

Despite many efforts to make it a reality, the paperless office is still an idealistic concept. But paper documents can present a whole host of risks and complications for any business, especially when you consider the strict requirements set out in the recent GDPR legislation.

One of these complications is the fact that paper documents need to be destroyed securely in order for a business to ensure compliance and total protection. Confidential data that is no longer needed – usually due to its retention period coming to an end – cannot simply be jammed into a filing cabinet or thrown in the bin. This is a risk to both the business responsible for the data and the person to whom the data belongs – a risk which, in the wake of the GDPR, businesses simply cannot afford to ignore. This raises the question…

What’s a business to do?

With paper documents being a necessary way of carrying personal data for many businesses (namely in the legal and financial sectors), the majority have defined rules and procedures in place to ensure that papers are destroyed in a secure manner when they are no longer needed.

Some of these protocols will be safer and more efficient than others. The majority of companies use shredders for the daily destruction of documents, leaving employees to manually dispose of shreddable waste and spend their valuable time standing by the shredder. For obvious reasons, this can pose logistical problems to the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of a business.

Furthermore, office shredders do not always guarantee total security. Standard models often leave shredded documents open to the possibility of being reassembled. Particle-cut shredders are the only standard office models that 100% guarantee total destruction of all documents that pass through their teeth – and these come with a hefty price tag!

An exciting alternative

Flexible Storage offer a brilliant alternative to the high-risk, time-consuming, and cost-intensive office shredding practices of old. Our secure shredding service offers businesses professional standards of compliance and safety while ensuring simplicity and peace of mind.

Taking the burden of shredding out of employee hands, this service allows them to spend less of their time and effort shredding and focus more on their main duties. Likewise, by incorporating an end-to-end disposal solution with the help of an external body, employers can allocate resources to more lucrative ventures within the business.

And what’s the hidden secret? Our shredding contracts usually require businesses to use a simple but effective piece of office equipment called a shredding console.

What is a shredding console?

A shredding console (a.k.a a confidential waste disposal console) is a secure and lockable container used for disposing confidential papers without taking the time to manually shred them yourself. They are also often referred to as confidential waste bins or lockable waste paper cabinets. Workers can place their shreddable papers into the console with no hassle – just like placing them into a normal waste paper bin. The difference is that shredding consoles are locked and secured, so once the paper is inserted, there is no way of getting it back unless you have a key.

At Flexible Storage, we can rent these shredding consoles out to your business as part of our secure document shredding service. You may keep any number of consoles in your office and our team will come to empty them at regular intervals. The sack inside the console is replaced, with the used sack being secured and taken back to our site for processing and destruction.

These used sacks are always treated with the highest standards of security and compliance: they are transported securely by vetted drivers, processed on our fully secure shredding site before entering industrial-grade shredders and pulverisers for 100% guaranteed destruction. Your sensitive papers never risk falling into the wrong hands after being placed into the console.

We are able to do this on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, depending on the quantity of shreddable waste your business produces. We will provide your office with an appropriate number of shredding consoles based on the size of your business and the information handled. Plus, the waste you choose to dispose of is not limited to paper documents. We can also destroy CDs, data tapes, USB drives, and other electronic forms of data storage.

How can this benefit your business?

It should be immediately clear why using these shredding consoles is an effective alternative to manually shredding your confidential documents or leaving them in unsecured storage units. There are various ways that secure shredding can benefit employees, customers, employees, and your business as a whole:

  • Security – Any documents placed in the shredding consoles are kept safe behind secure locks and cannot be accessed; they only come into contact with the fully-licensed waste carriers who empty the consoles for disposal and transport them for shredding. This will significantly reduce the chance of your documents being compromised, heighten the level of security in your business and improve your compliance record.
  • Compliance – Storing and destroying personal data comes with certain legal responsibilities with which all businesses should be familiar, namely the recent GDPR. This regulation dictates the way in which confidential documents should be disposed of for optimum security and protection of sensitive information. Flexible Storage are fully compliant with all relevant bodies, including GDPR, ISO, and BS EN security standards. Each batch of shredded paperwork comes with a certificate of destruction for legal proof.
  • Efficiency – Having us take care of your shredding and document disposal is a simple way to save your business time and money. Not only will employees be spending less time shredding but they will also have more time to generate revenue for the business. Furthermore, shredding consoles remove the need to spend large amounts on pricey office shredders with the capacity to securely destroy documents, as well as the costs involved in maintaining and repairing such equipment when necessary.

If you’re sold on the idea of a secure document shredding service and simply cannot wait to depart with that clunky office shredder, please get in touch to get a quote, make an appointment and discuss your requirements with one of our friendly storage consultants.