Small businesses accumulate a large amount of paperwork over the financial year, which has to be kept for long periods of time; either for operational or statutory reasons. The process can be expensive, taking up valuable space in the work place so businesses look to externally store their business archives. There are things to remember when storing or archiving paperwork, so what should you look out for when choosing safe storage for archiving documents?
- The space has to be correct – ensure the area is free from damp or mould so attics and basements are a no go. These sort of environments can lead to damage to the paperwork which would mean they would become useless and ultimately a waste of your time and money. The space for your business archives should be free from sunlight and heat sources as both of these can damage your papers over a period of time. Don’t forget free of dust!
- Filing – this has two sides to it; one, the space needs to be as such that you can easily access any file you want and at any time. Using shelving to store boxes etc on in a chronological order will really help along with an inventory when papers go in so if anyone needs to find anything quickly, they can. Two, the papers should be filed in the correct type of boxes. Purchase archival-quality boxes as these have been designed to house your papers, keeping them safe from external entities. Papers should be stored flat, unfolded and again, kept in chronological order.
- Do not use plastic bags – plastic such as bin liners, cling film and carrier bags prevent air circulation and emit harmful gases, which will destroy your papers. Stick with the boxes discussed above.
- The location needs to be secure – you need to know when you leave confidential papers somewhere that the storage is secure. Business archives that offer security guards, CCTV and secure locking systems will go some way to ease your worries behind this.
- Prolonged storage – if you know it will be years before you may need any of the papers again, there are some other preservation measure you should take. Remove metal clips, staples or pins as these can rust over time and damage your papers. If there is any damage such as tears, Sellotape can be damaging to stick it back down due to the chemicals in it so instead opt for archival tape, which is usually made from linen or cotton.
Remember, business archiving is important especially if you hold customer details. The process, if completed methodically, allows quick and easy access to records whenever needed. Some businesses choose to scan all their documents but this process can be costly and not always as secure. If you decide to house the storage on site, then take on board some of the points made above but if you are looking for a archiving or storage company, make sure they offer you everything highlighted here at a reasonable rate. Happy archiving!