Are you ready for the changes that come with a new year? As one year ends and a new one begins, it is a good time to engage everyone in getting rid of their workspace clutter and files, both physical and electronic, to literally and figuratively make room for new ideas and the challenges that the new year will bring.
They should take some time to archive what needs to be saved and remove what is no longer needed. This will help the entire office get organized and prep your organizational mindset to be open to new opportunities versus dwelling on failures or unachieved goals of the past.
Those winds of change will bring new opportunities with them – being ready to take advantage of those opportunities is great, but don’t forget your process controls along the way!
Fine tune processes.
When handling files and data, your organization should have process controls in place and all employees should be trained on those processes.
If there aren’t formal processes, this is a good time to create them and a companion check list on what an annual purge entails. This will provide guidelines for next time and a foundation that you’ll refine as your organization changes (new platforms, different legal rulings, client customization, etc.). The insight you will gain from this process can be invaluable.
Ditch the paper when you can.
Paper takes up a lot of room and is hard to keep updated and secure, especially when it comes to your clients’ data, something that should be high on your priority list.
When possible, ditch the paper records for digital records, securely maintained. Make sure the hard copies are disposed of properly and securely to protect your organization from legal ramifications.
Organize data files.
When people think of purging, they tend to think of paper collateral, but data files can get just as messy over time. And as different platforms become the norm at companies, storage of different file versions can consume a lot of digital memory.
An annual purge is a great time to remove old data that is no longer useful or relevant and organize data files in ways that makes sense to the entire team, not just their creator.
Thoroughly clean surfaces.
Another benefit of a good purge is that the tops of desktops and filing cabinets get cleared off. Since the winter months tend to be the most active for flu season, this is an ideal time to direct your janitorial staff to thoroughly sanitize all surfaces post-clean up and then institute a more frequent disinfection routine to protect your staff from spreading viruses and other illness as the winter continues.
Pro tip: Have your employees join in and keep their own personal spaces sanitized to reduce the spread of germs during this high-risk time. You may consider having disinfecting surface wipes and hand sanitizers available throughout the office for this purpose.
Make it fun and a tradition that includes all staff members.
Annual purging and organization does not have to be tedious, it can be an enjoyable tradition that the company oversees each year.
Make sure you create and follow processes for review and disposal, including what types of documents need to be archived, what documents can be shredded and what documents need to be kept on the premises.
Update your processes each year and include them in your mandatory employee training. Plan ahead - it will pay off by keeping your storage costs down, limiting the risk of data breaches, and protecting your organization from costly legal ramifications.