Are You Using the Wrong Office File Organization?

30th Nov 2021

Are You Using the Wrong Office File Organization?

About 82 percent of companies still use paper. The statistic may seem surprising at first, given the amount of lip service paid to digital technology.

But paperwork does have numerous strengths that make it a highly attractive option for enterprises the world over. For instance, information on paper is readily accessible, as opposed to digital information, which relies on a properly functioning electronic device to be accessed.

But dealing with paper also brings the responsibility of file organization. The truth is many people don’t know how to organize files, and some don’t bother learning this important skill.

But how can improper document organization hurt your business? More importantly, how can you transform your office filing system from unsatisfactory to exceptional?

Read on to learn more.

How Can Bad File Organization Hurt Your Business?

One of the top reasons entrepreneurs don’t take file organization seriously is because they don’t realize how harmful poor document organization can be to their businesses.

Few things are more time-consuming than trying to retrieve a poorly filed document, with professionals spending 18 minutes on average to locate a single document. That’s a lot of valuable time that you could be using to do some other important business task.

But it’s not just time you need to worry about. Poor filing can also cost your business money. On average, companies spend $120 in labor to find a misfiled document, while reproducing a lost document sets companies back $220 in labor.

Poor file organization also results in office space wastage. If you have piles of paper lying everywhere in your office, it’s likely you’re paying for office space that you aren’t putting to good use.

Failure to have a proper document storage system also leads to communication breakdown between employees. Their ability to find and share information is impeded, and their stress levels rise. Ultimately, productivity suffers.

Poor file management also reflects badly on you. It communicates that you’re unprofessional, which can quickly lose your business.

Implementing Proper File Organization

No matter how bad the state of your file organization is, you can always turn it around. Here are four document filing tips to get you started.

Use Color Coding

Since the beginning of office paperwork, companies have used color coding to help organize documents. It’s a tried and true document organization approach that’s easy to implement, even for a relatively complex law office file organization system.

Color coding helps you sort your files into sensible categories, so it’s easy to find them. The organizational technique can help you quickly turn a pile of office documents into orderly packages that you can easily predict.

Color coding can also work perfectly on physical and digital files. If your office uses both types of documents, you can opt to use the same color codes for each.

To implement color-coding, start by looking at all the business files that require organizing. Next, establish organizational categories, and assign a color to each category. These categories may include human resources, financial, facilities, and contracts.

Be sure to review the categories with your team to ensure that every member understands the color coordination and the categories you’ve chosen.

Set Expiration Dates

One of the easiest ways to organize your office files is to minimize the files that need organizing. But how do you determine which files to weed out?

You can use age as a standard determinant of which files to save and which to discard. Establish a tossing age for your files. It could be a year, three years, five years, or whatever seems most appropriate for you.

Where you think you may need certain files again, consider moving the files to a folder that you organize by year. Doing so helps avoid cluttering your main file system with out-of-date files.

Be sure to set a specific date of the year where you do an extensive file purge. This way, your filing system remains clean, relevant, and organized.

Divide File Organization by Departments

In many companies, certain files are relevant only to certain departments. If that’s the case in your firm, it only makes sense to assign the responsibility of file organization to a specific person in each department.

Start by creating a single overarching file management structure that’s based on departments rather than topics. Take the files to different departments and let a staff member from each department who has great organizational skills logically organize the department’s files. You can then gather the organized departmental files and add them to the overarching system.

Make File Organization a Regular Affair

As soon as you’re through organizing your files, don’t assume that you’re now done and can forget all about document filing forever. Top-notch file organization is a continuous affair. Set aside some time on a weekly basis to keep the system organized.

By contributing some filing effort regularly, you’ll be much less overwhelmed than you would if you were to clean up six months’ of poorly managed files at a go.

Set a regular reminder for weekly file organization to ensure that the task never gets overlooked. You may also want to come up with a way of keeping you and your coworkers accountable.

Proper File Organization Benefits Your Business

A poor file organization system can cost your business dearly in terms of time and money. The good news, however, is that any company can quickly clean up and organize their office filing system if they’re determined. The tips we’ve shared in this blog can help bring order to your filing system.

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