5 questions to ask before choosing a document storage company

Document storage - Scan Film or StoreChoosing a document storage company isn’t a particularly glamorous process. Not like picking out your next sports car or deciding on where to go on a family holiday. But it does require a degree of thought because, let’s face it, boring as it may be to some (not us, obviously) it’s an important decision to get right.

That’s why we thought we’d put together a list of questions you need to be asking any potential document storage provider before you sign on the dotted line. The last thing you want is to finally sort out the clutter in the office only to find you’ve got yourself into a situation where you could have a data breach or can’t get hold of vital documents for weeks at a time.

1) What’s your security like?

This is clearly a pretty fundamental question. After all, the reason you want to store your documents is surely because you want to keep them safe. This is especially true of confidential information, whether that be customer data (you don’t want to annoy the GDPR police!) or top secret company plans that your competitors would be gleefully happy to get their hands on.

At Scan Film or Store our facilities are monitored and alarmed 24/7 so you can be sure that even James Bond himself would have a hard time gaining access to our clients’ documents.

2) Is your storage facility climate controlled?

The thing about paper is that it’s not exactly the most sturdy stuff. Not only can it go up in flames pretty darn quickly, it also has a natural aversion to water. Even air that’s too damp is likely to cause a problem with mould. Then there’s light, which can fade ink, and rodents of all kinds, from rats to wasps. Your documents need to be protected from all of these.

Our purpose built storage unit at Scan Film or Store HQ is specially designed to create the best environment for housing large volumes of paper as well as microfilm, microfiche and so on.

3) How quickly can I get hold of one of my documents?

One of the benefits of having your paperwork in an archive room down the corridor from your office is that it’s relatively easy to get hold of a file at any given point (even if it does set off your dust allergies). If you use an off site storage facility, will you have to wait days to get important documents sent across in the post?

With our barcoding system, finding your files is a piece of cake and we can either scan them and email them across within a couple of hours, or get hard copies couriered over.

4) Is your team security checked?

It’s no use protecting your documents from spies and wannabe thieves if the storage company staff are going to interfere with them directly. It’s vital that the entire storage process is secure from start to finish, from the moment the files leave your office until they’re either returned or securely destroyed.

The Scan Film or Store team have all gone through DBS checking, plus we’ve been security vetted to BS7858 and signed the Official Secrets Act! It doesn’t get more secure than that.

5) Will you come and collect my documents?

This isn’t strictly essential, assuming you have the time, inclination and resources to pack up all your documents and trundle them over to your chosen storage company. But really, why would you bother if you can find a company that will do it all for you? After all, if you’re paying money for storage then you might as well enjoy the process.

We’re old pros when it comes to packing and moving, so let us come over to you and get everything boxed up – we’ll even bring the boxes and tidy up after ourselves. 

If you’re looking for a trusted and reliable document storage company, why not give us a call? We offer a free consultation and quotation service so give us a ring today to see how we can help.

Why autumn is the best time to declutter your office

Why autumn is the best time to declutter your office - blog post by Scan Film or StoreSpring cleaning – it’s so last year. These days everyone is timing their annual declutter around the start of autumn, which is on Sunday, in case you were wondering. After a hedonistic summer of barbecues, day drinking (just us??) and getting sunburned because honestly you just did NOT expect it to be so hot, it’s time to get back to reality. And nothing helps focus the mind like a good old spring… sorry, autumn clear out.

There are plenty of reasons why we prefer to schedule our decluttering as the weather gets colder. In fact, the weather is part of it. After all, the fact that it’s getting cooler means you’re less likely to get all hot and bothered while lugging boxes around. Also, we’re going into the season where we will be spending more time indoors and that means you want to get rid of all that annoying clutter that will make you feel stir crazy if you don’t.

Autumn decluttering isn’t just for your house. Given that you probably actually spend more time in the office in the average week than you do at home, it’s worth starting there. And there is plenty of evidence that your working environment can hugely affect your productivity. So if you need a way to convince your boss that spending a couple of days ignoring clients and focusing on clearing out the store cupboard is a genuinely good idea, just show them that article. Or if you are the boss, now you have a legitimate reason for getting your team to tidy up.

Of course, as every seasoned declutterer (it definitely is a word, no matter what autocorrect thinks) knows, it’s important to have a plan. So here are some tips from us because, if we do say so ourselves, getting organised is something we’re really very good at.

How to declutter like a pro

Good decluttering is one of those things that actually makes your environment look more chaotic to start with. That’s because the best thing to do is to unpack everything so you can see what you have. You’ll be surprised how much you can shove into a filing cabinet when you try and don’t get us started on archive rooms. Don’t worry, it does get better though.

Once you’ve sussed out how much is there, you need to make a plan of action to sift through it and get it organised. So for example, you might want to begin by throwing away / shredding / incinerating anything that you no longer need. Remember that if this detritus includes confidential waste, you’ll need to destroy it properly. You don’t want internal memos appearing in the local press now do you? And before you ask, no, standard office shredders aren’t particularly effective. Especially if you’re destroying micro format items like microfiche or microfilm.

Next step is to group what remains in a sensible sort of a way. It’s no good having your stock or invoices or packs of post-it notes divided across an arbitrary number of cupboards or shelves or filing cabinets scattered around the office. There needs to be method in the madness.

Storage – a thing of beauty

Once you know what needs to be stored and in what sort of order, it’s time to figure out WHERE. So here you have a few choices. You can dedicate one room or part of a room to storage. You can install shelving, invest in decent archive boxes, create a colour coded labelling system.

Just remember that certain things, such as paper, are quite fussy about their environmental conditions. Much like toddlers, they don’t like to be damp, they don’t like sunshine, they don’t like to be gnawed by rodents.

Of course, you could also get someone else to take care of all that for you. Offsite document storage is honestly the best and we’re really not just saying it because it’s our business. Here are a few reasons we think you’ll agree are pretty convincing:

  • It saves you so much space – space you can do all manner of cool stuff with.
  • You’ll always know where your documents are – we barcode the boxes in our custom built storage warehouse so we can lay our hands on any of them within minutes.
  • Your documents will be safe – from the elements, from fire, from thieves, all thanks to the climate control and security measures we have in place.
  • It will be so much easier to get hold of documents – like we said, we can get hold of any of the documents we store within a few short moments and we can also courier them over to you or scan and email copies.
  • You’ll save loads of time – just think of those wasted hours spent getting dusty in archive rooms or cursing the collapsing hanging files in that rickety filing cabinet.

Doing an effective autumn clear out takes a little thought and planning and a bit of hard work, but it’s so worth it. Just think how good you’ll feel once it’s done. And if you need some help or encouragement, give us a call.

3 ways to make business bookkeeping easier with document scanning

3 ways to make business bookkeeping easier with document scanningIt seems only fair to point out from the get go that we are not bookkeeping experts. But we have worked with plenty of bookkeepers in our time, not to mention business owners, so we’ve picked up a few things along the way.

Specifically, we’ve seen the challenges that come up time and time again – and the ways that we’ve been able to help our clients overcome them with our scanning superpowers. We’re pretty sure Marvel is working on a new franchise based on our work, but in the meantime we felt it was our civic duty to share a few foundational tips with you.

1) Get your receipts scanned

You know the receipts you get from shops or out of machines in car parks? The ones you carefully save and detail in your expenses claim form and then file away in boxes in case you get audited or you need the VAT number at some future point? Well they’re printed on thermal paper. Which means they’ll be pretty much illegible long before your next set of company accounts have been completed. The best way to ensure you have access to that data for years to come is by scanning your receipts. Auto Entry and Xero accounting systems both have excellent apps that allow you scan these from your mobile while on the move – but if you are time poor or have lots of them, we can do it for you.

2) Create a shared drive so everyone can access information

How many people need access to your invoices, receipts, purchase orders and so on? As well as any team members there’s also your accountant and your bookkeeper if you have one. Sending endless emails with bulky attachments – or worse, hard copies – is a pain. Far easier to have everything scanned and stored digitally in a central location that can be accessed by anyone who needs it in real time. This is also helpful if you need to get hold of a document on the go. Systems like Dropbox and GSuite can even be accessed from your phone, making it much easier to get stuff done when you’re out and about.

3) Use OCR to make finding stuff easier

So, you’ve successfully created an online archive and everyone who needs it can access it – well done you. Now, where exactly did you decide to store the Christmas party deposit receipt? Beryl is asking for it, and she doesn’t like to be kept waiting. Was it under C for Christmas? Perhaps D for December? Receipts paid? Current receipts? If you opt to give your files the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) treatment when they’re being scanned, you’ll be able to simply type in the word ‘Christmas’ and any printed documents containing that term will magically* appear. We can OCR in up to 35 different languages, which we think is pretty impressive. Can you even name that many languages? (*It’s not actually magic, just clever technology).

So there you have it. You’re not so skeptical about Marvel wanting to work with us now, are you, hm? If you’d like to engage our scanning services before we get so famous that we have to triple our rates, get in touch with the team today.

Does my document look oversized in this?

Does my document look oversized in this?Size – it’s a big thing in the media these days. But in this case we’re not talking waistlines. Oh no, we’re far more interested in paper sizing. And as far as we’re concerned, the bigger the better! Because oversized document scanning is one of those things that is more complex than it might sound, and you know we love a challenge.

We do ours on a Canon OCE large format scanner, which can scan in colour or black and white. It can deal with documents up to A0 in width and basically as long as you like (within reason – there’s a limit to the amount of physical space we have in the building so let’s not try and break any records, ok?). To give you an idea, we’ve done aircraft drawings that have been over 40ft long! We’ve also done drawings of nuclear power station parts, but we can’t tell you any more about that or we’d have to kill you.

Work that scanner!

To start an oversized scanning job we actually have to alter the office layout, pulling the scanner away from the wall and rearranging the tables so as to allow the documents to feed through and out the other side. It’s a very manual process and takes a delicate hand (ideally two), especially since many of the oversized documents we deal with are quite fragile, for example if they’re printed on mylar or drawing paper.

The Canon OCE scans at 300DPI (dots per inch) resolution rather than 200DPI, which essentially means that the images it produces – saved as either a TIF, PDF or JPEG – are of a higher quality. Which is pretty important given that most of the oversized documents we scan are things like architects plans, engineering plans, site plans (any plans, really), technical drawings and so on, which have to be very accurate at any scale.

We can also scan documents up to 15mm thick, so original mounted prints will fit through – ideal for insuring artwork.

Don’t try this at home

A warning before we wrap this up (which we will do in a moment, because while we find the intricacies of scanning oversized document scintillating, we know not everyone does): don’t be tempted to fudge the process on your normal sized office scanner.

There’s always one clever clogs who decides to chop up a schematic drawing, photocopy the individual pages and then glue them back together. Or scan sections and stitch them together digitally.

This does not work. You inevitably wreck the scaling or end up with a crease line over an important bit of piping which means the new building you’re constructing will be flooded with sewage every time someone flushes the loo.

If you need help making architect’s drawings, engineering drawing, vehicle schematics or whatever more portable, please ask us instead – we’re only too willing to help.

Very British Problems we completely identify with

If you’ve never come across Very British Problems then prepare to not get any work done for the rest of the day. We can’t get enough of Rob Temple and the way he manages to capture the unique perspective that our countrymen and women have on life and reduce it to one-liners that are universally funny.

Here are a few of our favourites…

Switching from ‘kind regards’ to ‘regards’ as a warning that you’re dangerously close to losing your temper.

Ah, the passive aggressive email sign off. We know it well. And may have used it on occasion ourselves. Brits are polite; we just can’t help it. Even if we’re quite seriously naffed off.

“We should really start thinking about making a move” – Translation: We’ve been trying to leave for many hours

This, this and a thousand times this. Especially at the end of an impossibly long meeting. Or afternoon tea with an elderly relative. If your other half utters these words, even if their tone is relaxed, check their eyes – you’ll almost certainly see “get me out of here now!” burning deeply within them, in which case you really do need to make that move.

Trains delayed due to:

– Wrong kind of sun

– Ominous cloud

– Slightly damp leaf

– Chilly track

– Suspicious gravel

– Sarcastic swan

Bloody swans.

“Could I just grab you for two secs?”

I’m literally holding a sandwich to my face, please go away until the sandwich is gone.

Sandwiches are important, they should not be interrupted. Also, reducing the word ‘seconds’ to ‘secs’ is awkward. Especially when combined with the verb ‘grab’.

“Let’s agree to disagree.” Translation: You’re wrong, but I’m tired.

We Brits don’t like argue to much. I mean, it’s all terribly awkward, isn’t it, conflict. And no one likes a stalemate. Far better to whip out this truce card, even if we both know what it really means.

How to exit a window seat:

– Lean forward

– Gently touch headrest or bag

– Whisper “sorry”

– If procedure fails, stay on train forever

We once ended up in Cornwall because the lady in the aisle seat was asleep. Note to self: always avoid the window seat where possible.

And here are a few of our own…

Muttering vague apologies about allergies and dust mites when asked to retrieve something from the archive room.

Well, archive rooms are scary. They’re where paper, moths and dreams go to die. Thankfully, we don’t actually have this problem ourselves – our storage warehouse is clean, temperature controlled and neatly filled with barcoded boxes so we can always find what we’re looking for without leaving a trail of breadcrumbs.

Looking around in blank terror when your boss asks you to scan something and email it to a client.

Seriously, photocopiers have gotten really sophisticated in recent years. Which is great, obviously, but it does mean that you need a specialist NVQ to figure out which buttons to press if you want anything more complex than a mono copy of a single sided document. Luckily, we’re sort of geeky about copiers and scanners and such like. Why not let us handle it, hey? You go have a nice cup of tea.

Needing an important file that only Marjorie can find, the very moment Marjorie clocks out for a two week walking holiday in the Lake District.

And Marjorie is not the kind of person who takes a mobile phone with her on a country ramble. We’ve heard this kind of sad tale on so many occasions. Although not from our clients. Their records are safely stored with us and we can get them a scanned, copied or original version pretty much instantly, even if it is the summer holidays. Worth thinking about.

The meditative effect of feeding confidential waste into the shredder… followed by the moment of fear as you remember that episode of Silent Witness when they managed to piece the strips back together and get the bad guy.

Not all shredders are created equal. Ours cross shred, making confetti rather than strips. And then we pulp the confetti, so you literally couldn’t piece it back together if you tried. Clever, right?

To find out more about our document storage, document scanning or secure data destruction services, get in touch today.

5 classic summer disasters and how to avoid them

Scan Film or Store - 5 summer disasters and how to avoid themAh the summer. A joyous time, full of sunshine and happiness and ice cream cones and laughing children. Or not, as the case may be. Call us old codgers if you will but we can’t help but see the potential disadvantages of this supposedly splendid season – the lurking disasters that threaten to strike at any time without warning.

Here are a few you may find familiar…

1) The holiday jealousy heart attack

Facebook is officially bad for your health. As are Instaphoto, Twitpic and Snapchatter (did we get those right??). Throughout the summer, social media is stuffed with pictures from around the world – Mauritius, Gran Canaria, the Seychelles – all golden sands and blue skies, cocktails with little umbrellas and, worst of all, golden brown “look at me, I’m on holiday!” hotdog leg photos. When all you’ve got to look forward to is seven long nights at Butlins, it’s enough to give you a heart condition.

Solution: Defriend anyone who is venturing beyond the shores of our little island and drink colourful cocktails until you start to feel better.

2) The day the charcoal runs out

After weeks of rain the sun has finally made an appearance – time to fire up the barbecue! Only you haven’t got any charcoal. No problem. There’s a garage round the corner. Oh, they’re sold out. Never mind, the supermarket usually has some. Hm, not today though. Several futile attempts later you are forced to grill your sausages and chicken wings in the oven, leaving them in there for far longer than necessary in order to get that authentic burnt taste (it’s not the same though, is it?).

The solution: Stock up now. It’s the only way. Fill your shed, the cupboard under your stairs, whatever space you can find. You can always sell the excess to your neighbours for a profit later.

3) The ‘where the heck is that $*@# document?!’ moment

You can guarantee it: every summer without fail, just as the office is starting to resemble the Marie Celeste, a client will ring up demanding some important old report or other essential document that was archived months ago. And because Marjorie is on holiday and she’s the only one who understands the filing system (or is brave enough to venture into the storage room) your hands are tied. Which is not going to go down well with the client. Or your line manager.

Solution: Dispense with Marjorie! Not literally, obviously. Just ensure you don’t need her to find stuff for you by getting us to take care of your archives. We use a clever barcoding system in our custom built storage facility in Bridgwater so that we can find any document pretty much instantaneously, and we can deliver them back to you within 24 hours either as a scanned copy or in original hard copy.

4) The misjudging of the exact strength of the sun

This is England. It rains in the summer. Except when it doesn’t. Then we’re both excited and bewildered by the ability to venture outside without the need for socks or an emergency umbrella (just in case). All of that sunshine can go to our heads a bit. We haven’t got used to putting suncream on yet, we weren’t expecting to have to use it unless we unexpectedly won a free trip to Dubai. So inevitably, on that first day when the thermometer creeps above 20C, we burn. And then spend the rest of the summer peeling and wearing factor 50.

5) The double booking of the village fete and the Wimbledon final

Wimbledon. It’s a British institution. Like the Queen’s speech, pubs and spotted dick. Missing the final is unacceptable. And yet you promised Doris that you’d run the tombola stall at the village fete that weekend. You really should have checked the date more closely but the WI ladies were looking at you so expectantly…

Solution: Switch with Mabel and offer to bake a few cakes for the tea stand. If that doesn’t work, make a generous donation to the church roof fund and all will be forgiven.

So there we have it. Five foolproof ways to avoid common British summer disasters this year.

If you do need a hand with your document storage, scanning, data conversion or destruction this summer, give us a call and we’ll be pleased to help.

Way out ways to go green this World Environment Day

Naturist on a bike - way out ways to go green blog post from Scan Film or StoreThere’s no doubt that the human race doesn’t have an especially good track record when it comes to taking care of this planet we call home. We use too much electricity and water, cut down too many trees, cause too much pollution – it’s not on, really.

But it’s never too late to make more of an effort to go green. And we don’t just mean by using a Bag for Life and sticking our vegetable peelings on the compost heap. The situation has got a bit more serious than that.

It’s time for something a little more extreme. And what better day to start than today, World Environment Day? Here are a few of our best suggestions.

Become a naturist

Who needs clothes, right? Manufacturing them uses loads of energy and often chemicals that cause pollution. Washing them uses energy too, and water. And then when you’re done with them, they sit in landfills causing more pollution and taking forever to break down. The simplest solution is definitely to ditch the clothes and embrace your eco-friendly birthday suit.

The moderate alternative: Buy clothes made from organic and sustainable fabrics such as bamboo wherever possible, and wash on a 30C cycle.

Whip up a batch of snails

Next time you’re out in the garden and you see a snail munching on your prize cabbages or your favourite hostas, get your revenge. Stick them in a pot and have them for tea! After all, the negative environmental impact of eating meat is well documented, in terms of water and energy use and also pollution. So what better way to get your RDA of protein and save your garden too? [Editor’s note: Actually, probably best to check they’re not poisonous first, ok?]

The moderate alternative: Actually oysters, mussels and clams will do just as well – they’re some of the most eco-friendly sources of animal protein around and a degree or two less icky.

Chuck out the photocopier

Did you know that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year? That’s madness! And what’s the bet most of it is wasted on things that don’t really need to be printed or photocopied. There’s only one thing to do. It may be harsh but the photocopiers and printers need to go. If someone has to make a facsimile of something they can write it out by hand. That should make them think twice about whether they really need it.

The moderate alternative: Default the printer and copier to double sided, monitor individual usage so you can see where people are being wasteful, and store documents digitally so they can be shared without the need for making copies*.

Ditch the take away coffees

Hahaha, only joking! How would we survive?! Those disposable cups really aren’t good for the environment thought, so…

The moderate alternative: Get yourself a travel mug and next time you fill up, ask the barista to stick your half fat soy mochachino in there instead.

Stop brushing your teeth

You’re supposed to change your toothbrush roughly every three months, right? So that’s four little sticks of plastic you’ll be throwing away every year. Multiply that by the number of people in the UK (that’ll be over 65 million) and you can see that this whole oral hygiene habit we’ve got going on just isn’t sustainable.

The moderate alternative: Buy one of these eco-friendly bamboo toothbrushes instead – they even come in a fetching rainbow colourway!

*If you’re thinking about going paperless and want to talk to someone about how digital archiving works, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to chat through your individual situation.

GDPR by numbers

Scan Film or Store - GDPR by numbersYou’re fed up of hearing about GDPR, aren’t you? We understand. We’re not especially excited by it any more either (were we ever?). But it’s important, especially from today. Because today is the day that GDPR becomes law. You can’t put it off any longer!

If you still haven’t quite wrapped your head around it all, we’re here to help. We’ve boiled the confusion that is GDPR down to a few key numbers that are well worth knowing. Think of this as your crib sheet. Feel free to print it out and smuggle it into the exam room. We won’t tell.

6: The number of available lawful bases for processing personal data

These bases include:

  • Consent
  • Contract
  • Legal obligation
  • Vital interests
  • Public task
  • Legitimate interests

Find out more

In plain English: You can’t just process data willy-nilly. You need a reason. A very good reason. One a lawyer would approve of.

£35: The amount it costs to register as a data controller

Unless your business has an annual turnover of £25.9 million and more than 249 members of staff, or you’re a public authority with more than 249 members of staff. In which case you can probably afford the £500 fee.

Find out more

In plain English: You have to register as a data controller and it costs money but not very much unless you’re loaded anyway.

8: The number of rights provided for individuals under GDPR

These rights include:

  • The right to be informed
  • The right of access
  • The right to rectification
  • The right to erasure (aka The right to be forgotten)
  • The right to restrict processing
  • The right to data portability
  • The right to object
  • Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling

Find out more

In plain English: People are the boss of their own data. They can access it, change it, tell you to get rid of it – and a bunch more besides.

€20 million: The fine you could face for not complying with GDPR

Penalties for breaching GDPR can reach up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover – whichever is higher (yes, higher!).

In plain English: Getting GDPR compliant may be a pain in the backside but not nearly as much of a pain in the backside as having to fork out silly money if you don’t.

40%: The number of EU-based executives who don’t have a clue about GDPR rules

Actually the exact wording used by the Financial Times article where we read this was: “According to the consultancy EY, which surveyed 1,100 EU-based executives for its latest fraud and compliance report, almost 40 per cent said they did not know the GDPR rules even fairly well.”

Find out more

In plain English: No one knows what the heck is going on. Even top people who really should. Which is worrying. But kind of reassuring too, right?

12: The number of steps the ICO suggests taking to prepare for GDPR

And by ICO we mean the Information Commissioner’s Office. In other words, the GDPR experts. They’ve even produced a handy little guide, all designed in uplifting colours with a snazzy infographic so it won’t appear as tedious as it will in fact be to action.

Find out more

In plain English: Making sure you’re GDPR compliant isn’t a quick process. You will need to think about many, many things. But at least they made you an infographic.

72: The number of hours you have to report a data breach

If you don’t, you can be fined €10 or 2% of global turnover, whichever is greater. Even if you were otherwise compliant up until then.

Find out more

In plain English: Even if you do everything right, if some cyber criminal cracks your code and you don’t report it quick smart, you’re still going to be out of pocket.

10%: The bare minimum you should be doing

If you can show that you have made a start in complying with the new GDPR rules – and can provide an implementation plan to get you to full compliance within a set time frame – you could reduce a potential fine.

In plain English: Making a start is better than doing nothing. You might still get fined, but it should be less. Although we still recommend avoiding a fine altogether by cracking on and making sure you’re compliant asap.

Hopefully that little run down has given you a few more facts without you having to invest an awful lot of reading time. There’s plenty more info over on the ICO website if you need it… or if you can’t sleep one night after too much Brie.

While we’ve got you, if you have any data – whether that be paper documents, hard drives or anything else – that you need to destroy in light of GDPR, we can help. Give us a call today.

7 ways to tackle stress in the workplace

Scan Film or Store - 7 ways to tackle stress in the workplaceHi there! How are you today? No, don’t just say “fine” without thinking. How are you really? Might you be just a little bit stressed? Or even a lot stressed?

Government figures show that in 2016-17, over half a million workers in the UK were suffering from work-related stress, depression and anxiety. This caused 12.5 million working days to be lost. Which means stress doesn’t just suck for the people who are feeling it but for the companies they work for too.

So is there anything that can be done? Of course there is! If you run a business – or a team within a business – you’re in a unique position to change the culture and reduce stress in the workplace. Which makes you something of a superhero really.

Here are a few ideas to get you started…

1) Think flexi

Chaining your team to their desks from 9am to 5pm really isn’t the ideal way to get the most out of them. Some people are early birds who will be much more effective on an 8-4 arrangement. Others will be happier if they can squash their weekly hours into four days so they can have Fridays off. Still others will be far more productive if they can work from home. Flexible working can seriously reduce people’s stress levels, so ask your team about what might suit them. Even the fact that you’re asking will help them feel like they’re being looked after.

2) Get people moving

Physical exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress levels. Even something as simple as a walk at lunchtime can help people clear their heads, get mental space from their inbox and their deadlines, and get those endorphins pumping to raise wellbeing levels. We’re not suggesting you turf them all out in the cold a couple of times a day, but why not get a lunchtime walk club started, or sponsor their gym passes?

3) Have an open door policy

Here’s a little pop quiz for you. If someone in your team is stressed, are they likely to:

A: Come and talk to you about it

B: Moan to their other half about stressful work is

C: Pour a stiff G&T (or three)

D: Do nothing and carry on regardless

If the answer isn’t A, you need to do something about it. You can’t fix problems you don’t know about, right? People need to know they can talk to you about their stress levels without it impacting their status in the business.

4) Get your filing system sorted

Seriously, it’s bothering your staff – not to mention kicking their productivity levels down a notch or two and actually costing you money. Need proof? Research shows that a third of office employees see searching for documents as “difficult” or “frustrating”, with 42% saying it takes up to 15 minutes to find a document or file. Just think about that. If someone were to search for 16 files in the course of the day, they’d have spent half their time in the office doing that!

[Plug time! If you need help creating a filing system that is anything but stressful, get in touch – if we do say so ourselves, we’re really, really good at organising stuff. We can store your physical documents and deliver them back as you need them, or scan them and create a digital archive. Or both. Both is always a good option.]

5) Ban desk lunches

There are so many reasons why eating your lunch while you work is bad for your wellbeing. Firstly, you don’t get a break. Secondly, you don’t get to socialise. Thirdly, you don’t actually get to taste and enjoy your food. Banning desk lunches might seem extreme but it will show your team that you prioritise their wellbeing over the need to get stuff done. Consider creating a break out space in your office where people can eat and chat, or why not organise a weekly event like a bring and share lunch or pizza party?

6) Say thank you

Sometimes we all have to work hard. That in itself doesn’t have to be stressful. If you manage the situation properly then powering through an important project together can actually help your team bond and feel proud as they achieve a big win. But if you don’t encourage them along the way, recognise their efforts and say thank you at the end… well, you probably won’t get the same level of effort next time. Saying thank you is easy. Saying sorry is harder.

7) Lead by example

If you want your kids to eat vegetables and you’re busy scoffing an ice cream, you’re fighting a losing battle. And since leadership is a lot like parenting, the same principle applies in the office. Are you stressed? Are you doing what you can to reduce your stress levels? Remember that old example of putting on your own oxygen mask before you help others. You can’t help your team if you’re stuck at home recovering from a breakdown.

Reducing stress levels will improve your team’s productivity and make your office a nicer place to work. Which is good news for everyone. So think about whether you could implement one of more of these suggestions, then ask your team what else they’d like to see change.

Why shredding isn’t enough – and what the alternatives are

Shredded document - data security - blog post from Scan Film or StoreData security is a pretty important subject, as we think you’ll agree. Whether it’s personal bank details or highly classified company secrets, letting certain documents fall into the wrong hands is a very bad idea. At best, you’re left looking a bit stupid, at worst a breach like that could cost you millions.

“Yes, yes,” we hear you say. “We haven’t been living under a rock. We KNOW you can’t just chuck sensitive paperwork in the bin. But it’s all ok because we have (adopt reverent tone)… a shredder.”

Ah, the humble shredder. Such a fun office toy. There’s something mesmerising about feeding the tiny plastic beast with its chomping metal teeth and its mechanical growl. It’s like having a guard dog, in a way – you keep it supplied with enough paper and away from rogue staples, and in return it makes sure that no one gets their hands on your data.

Except we’re sorry to say that a shredder is about as effective a guard dog as an overly friendly beagle.

Shredding, only better

Don’t get us wrong, shredding is a good start. Definitely better than bundling up your top secret documents and sending them first class to your local tabloid newspaper. But a standard high street shredder simply spits out relatively wide strips of paper. Which, given enough time, concentration and patience, someone with nimble fingers could stick back together. We’ve seen it on enough episodes of CSI.

So, is there an alternative? Why yes, as it happens, there is.

Professional shredding – by which we mean shredding that is certified to BS15713:2009 standards, as ours is – does a completely irreversible job.

We start by cross shredding the paper so that its reduced to confetti rather than strips. And then, just to be sure, we pulp it so there really is no way anyone could read it. That pulp is then used in the manufacture of soft tissue products, so it’s green too, which makes us happy.

Bringing out the big guns

Of course, there are other physical items you might need to destroy which are’t made of paper. Things like microfilm and microfiche. These are definitely not shreddable – the whole point is that the images they contain are super tiny, so at best a shredder might cut one in half. Which means you’ll still be able to see the pictures or read the words they contain.

Instead what we do with microfiche and microfilm is incinerate it. This process is distinctly more complex than sticking it on a bonfire in the parking lot. Microfilm incineration is definitely something you want to leave to the professionals.

CDs and DVDs do get shredded, but obviously not with a standard paper shredder. Ours reduces the discs to small and entirely unreadable fragments that can then be recycled.

And then there’s magnetic computer tape – the kind you get in back up tapes – which we can either shred, incinerate or degauss. No, we’re not sneezing; degaussing is a process that removes the magnetic charge from a tape so you can’t read it any more. It got its name from the word gauss, which is a unit of magnetism that in turn was named after a German mathematician. Every day’s a school day!

So there you go – lots of ways to destroy stuff so you can’t stick it back together. We’re not suggesting you send us every scrap of paper you no longer need. But if you don’t want anyone to get hold of it – or by law you need to ensure it’s kept confidential – then do give us a shout so we can make sure that destroyed really means destroyed.

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