Missing or misplaced information costs more than you think.
By Cindy Clawson
How much is interoffice clutter, paper piles and ineffective filing systems costing your company? Studies show that the average worker loses at least one hour of productivity each day due to disorganization—easily adding up to thousands of dollars each year. Add in inefficient systems and out-of-date tools, and the potential for lost revenue skyrockets. In fact, a Brother International study says collective messy desks and time spent looking for misplaced items costs corporate America $177 billion annually.
Systems and Processes
An employee’s ability to accomplish any task or goal is directly related to his or her ability to find what is needed when it is needed. Therefore, company leadership should consider adopting a numerical filing system tied to a spreadsheet or cloud-based software program versus an alphabetical system.
The inherent problem with the traditional alphabetical system is that not everyone names files the same thing. For example, one person may file information for the company car under “car” and another may file it under “vehicle.” This creates problems locating information, and causes duplication and wasted time. With a numerical system, you select a general category, such as “company car,” and add key words, such as “auto,” “car,” “Ford,” “vehicle,” etc. When someone is looking for the information, all they have to do is conduct a keyword search and the company car information is located—literally in a matter of seconds.
The database can be located on a company shared drive or cloud-based system and anyone who has access can perform a key word search. It can be maintained for many years to come and little or no training is needed as people come and go within the organization. Instead of thinking of it as a filing system, think of it as a “finding” system.
Not sure where to begin in setting up a filing system, hiring a professional to guide and assist with the process is easier than you think. And, it may save you money in the long run.
Another efficiency component is setting up and maintaining company retention guidelines. Do your employees know what to keep in the long term in regards to documentation, files and client history? Do you have a system in place that everyone abides by, or does everyone just keep everything for fear that they may throw away something important?
The reality is that we never use 80 percent of what we keep. There are probably thousands of pieces of paper in company filing cabinets all across Kansas City that haven’t been looked at or accessed for years.
Retention guidelines provide a system for what should and should not be kept and for how long. This eliminates unnecessary paperwork storage, creating the ability to locate items quickly and easily for legal and audit purposes, ultimately leading to less clutter and chaos within the work environment.
Office Clean Out Day
As the economic conditions across the United States slowly recover from the recession, it’s fair to say that many employees have been accustomed to doing more with less and things that appear non-priority have been neglected. Take a look around your office. Do you see piles of paper, stacks of boxes, non-centralized office supplies, things crammed into closets, cupboards and storage spaces?
A big question to ask is: Does your office environment reflect the atmosphere you want to convey to prospects and clients? If not, an Office Clean Out Day may be the trick for getting things back in order to create a productive environment and an intentional setting in which employees can accomplish their work with greater productivity and satisfaction.
And yes, it will take time away from the regular work day. But in the end, new systems will be in place and hopefully staff will all be working on the same page in an environment that reflects the company’s goals and values.
The key element in creating a successful Office Clean Out Day is an endorsement from management, which means everyone, including key managers, get involved in the process. This sends a message that a productive and organized environment is a key success factor to creating a profitable company.
Taking time to regroup and refresh a work environment is just as important as doing annual maintenance on an HVAC system or providing annual safety training.
Cindy Clawson is a Certified Productive Environment Specialist (CPES), and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and Faithful Organizers. She also has earned Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification. She is a graduate of University of Central Missouri with a B.S. degree in Organizational Communications.