January 05, 2017

Best New Year’s Resolution: Lose ‘Information Weight’ and Keep It Off

With so much emphasis on health these days, it’s not surprising that weight reduction is one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions.

In the workplace, a document destruction policy to lose ‘information weight’ would be a good resolution too, because many workplaces are carrying an increasing amount of excess weight.

By some estimates, and based on advances in technology, data in the workplace doubles every 18 months. At the same time, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year – which adds up to 4 million tons of copy paper in the U.S. alone.

When information security and risk of a data breach get factored in, it becomes even more important to have an information ‘weight management’ plan.

Here’s how to commit to a New Year’s Resolution to lose information weight, and keep it off:

Purge. Employees should review all documents on file to determine what does not need to be kept. While it’s important to meet record retention obligations, be sure to purge paper, PDF files, emails, offsite records, DVDs, and hard drives of all sizes when information is no longer needed.

Stay lean – and organized.  Have a comprehensive Document Management Policy so that every piece of confidential data is securely managed and protected from creation to disposal. Label documents so they show what the document contains, the date with year, and the keep-until date. 

Reduce paper use. Use paper-saving strategies to cut down the amount of paper being utilized in the workplace. For example, print on both sides of paper, switch to digital, use a cloud service for storage, use collaborative online programs for sharing, and run green meetings.

Review information collection. Collect only the information that is necessary for your business and/or to comply with legislated policies and guidelines. Adjusting requirements should be an on-going task.  

Make security a regular exercise. Use different policies and procedures to embed security behaviors in the workplace. Implement a Clean Desk Policy so that documents are not left lying around at desks and in the workplace. Store documents in a secure locked location and/or in a password protected file. Implement a Shred-it all Policy so that all workplace documents are securely disposed of and destroyed when they are no longer needed. A document destruction policy template should direct replacing open recycling bins with locked consoles for documents until they are removed for secure destruction.

Schedule regular destruction. Partner with a document destruction company for regularly scheduled destruction services. Both paper and digital documents must be securely destroyed when no longer needed. Shredding is the preferred method and a legal requirement for many documents. The best way to dispose of digital documents is to destroy them too – schedule hard drive and e-media destruction. A document destruction policy is a good reminder for employees and helps fight complacency around keeping information secure, which is an increasing concern according to the 2016 State of the Industry Report from Shred-it.

Reduce even more information ‘weight’ in the workplace by better safeguarding the key areas of office fraud.