Have an Office Purge Party to Overcome File Separation Anxiety Syndrome

When planning an office relocation, employees often have separation anxiety with their files. Paper files can be left untouched in file cabinets and file rooms for years and before you realize it, you are surrounded by a mountain of clutter.

Whether it’s the requirement to retain records or holding on to that client volume that’s gathered dust because it may resurrect itself in the coming decade, employees have issues purging old, outdated and unnecessary records. File retention can be an emotional issue so it’s important to set rules when planning for an office move.

First, have an accounting of the volume of files and records that will be relocated to properly plan for your storage requirements.  This should be done before the design phase so ample space is allocated for your new file room or cabinet layout.

Next, calculate the linear filing inches (LFI) of your file storage requirements.  For instance, a 36” 4-drawer high file cabinet would be 36” x 4 drawers = 144”, minus 3” per drawer for the outside frame which is a total of 135 (LFI). Make sure to include existing files that were supposed to be filed in a cabinet, but may have been stashed in the nooks and crannies, credenza’s and overheads throughout your office.

If records are going to a records room, a high density filing system or banks of lateral file cabinets, purging unnecessary records can greatly reduce the content to be relocated, thus minimizing relocation and unneeded casegood costs.

Set rules for storage needs by allocating a certain amount of LFI for each department.  If a department exceeds the capacity, alternative solutions are required such as off-site storage, electronic document scanning or a file purge. Don’t make the mistake of moving old files from one location to the other, wasting money to pay for moving and then tossing items that should have been disposed of prior to the move. A well-planned purge effort can minimize waste and save money for your company.

Purge Parties

Make it an office wide event over several dress-down Friday’s:

  • Have an agenda where everyone is assigned specific tasks, areas to organize and guidelines for what to keep
  • There is a fear of discarding something for fear it will be needed in the future. Determine whose responsibility it is to keep certain paperwork.
  • Block time in the schedule for everyone to participate
  • Bring in pizza, sodas and paper recycle bins
  • Assign areas to different staff to clean out/organize
  • Set guidelines for what to toss, keep, repair or donate
  • Have a shredding company set up to handle the discarded paper and electronics
  • Have a document storage company set up to take old records off site

Guidelines for Purging Office Files

Begin by eliminating all duplicate copies and supplies from the files.

Deploy the D.A.R.T. (Decision, Action, Reference, and Toss) system to make the de-cluttering process easier:
Decision: You have to make a decision about the items in the piles that you have. Action: There are different types of action, but no system works unless you act. Reference: We all have items that we keep for reference. Toss: Recycle, shred or sell.

See how to effectively implement the D.A.R.T. System http://www.productiveandorganized.net/2009/06/dart-paper-management-system.html

Electronics or E-Waste: Arrange for a recycler to pick up all obsolete computers and electronics that are not being moved to the new office. Make sure hard drives are shredded as well.  Get a Certificate of Destruction to ensure your data has been destroyed.

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