June 06, 2017

Declutter the Office: Top 15 Decluttering Tips and Tricks

Is it time to declutter the office?  

A cluttered office can negatively impact the motivation and productivity of employees. If you work from home, you already know that a cluttered workspace can cause more stress. Clutter also means that confidential information may be exposed – which is exactly what information thieves are looking for.

On the flipside, the U.K.-based interior design company oka.com reported that people make better decisions in a tidy space – and that can save the 15-20% of the annual budget that can be lost when it’s untidy.

In a decluttered office, 83% of the workforce say they feel more productive, better accomplished, and in control.

Here are 15 tips and tricks to declutter the office and better protect confidential information.

  1. Clear the desk. Place only the items that are needed for daily work within arm’s reach (the phone, keyboard and monitor, lamp, and other essential work supplies). This is the best way you can be clutter-free round the clock.
  2. Keep personal items organized with a place for coats, and a locked drawer or cupboard for personal items.  
  3. Declutter by picking up every item in the work area and asking, does it have a purpose? Anything that doesn’t should be tossed, taken home, or securely disposed of. Not sure? Don’t waste time deciding. Have a ‘not sure’ box or locked drawer, and go back to it later.
  4. Office Organization shouldn't feel burdensome. Keep it simple. Organize desk drawers by importance – items used most should go into the closest drawers.
  5. Have an efficient workflow for paperwork. One example is to have paper come in on the left, get processed, and then go out on the right (filed in a locked drawer or filing cabinet or securely disposed of).
  6. Organize digital information too, with logical and labeled folders and when necessary, in password protected files. File all emails using a simple filing system: ‘reply’, ‘waiting’, ‘archive’.  If you manage multiple projects, it helps to create various email folders and set rules to organize incoming emails directly into your inbox folders.
  7. Review and purge filed documents regularly, according to the 2017 Shred-it State of the Industry Report. The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) has reported that individuals never use 80% of papers they file. 
  8. Stop using sticky notes (they’re messy and can expose information). Use calendar reminders and a password manager instead.
  9. Digitize paper documents if possible. Put paper into locked consoles for secure destruction – not into open recycling or garbage bins.
  10. Embed processes that standardize tidiness. These processes would include partnering with a document destruction company that installs locked consoles and provides regular secure removal and destruction services.   
  11. Implement a Clean Desk Policy so that all employees tidy work stations at the end of every day. When away from desks during the day, avoid visual hacking by protecting loose papers and closing down monitors. If you have employees working from home, have the shredding drop-box be available at the office so they can drop-in their confidential papers related to work.
  12. Introduce a Shred-it All Policy so that all documents are securely destroyed when no longer needed.
  13. Create a comprehensive Document Management process so documents are systematically identified, filed and securely disposed of based on privacy laws and compliance requirements.
  14. Delete all unused apps and software. Do not download unnecessary (or personal) apps onto work devices. Stay digitally clutter-free.
  15. Use the ‘one in; one out’ rule. For example, if you get a new hard drive, dispose of the old one securely. The workplace should not stockpile hard drives, but have all legacy hard drives securely destroyed by the document destruction company.  

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To learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents and hard drives, please contact us to get a free quote and security risk assessment.