Run a Tight Ship: An Organized Office Makes Compliance Easier

Posted on: September 11, 2014

While we all know that a messy desk is the sign of a creative genius, when that mess extends to the rest of your office or workplace, it can lead to trouble. Especially when you need to be in compliance with any of these regulations:

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1995 requires that healthcare industry professionals responsibly destroy discarded patient information.
  • The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) of 2003 was enacted to help reduce the risk of identity theft by requiring responsible destruction of discarded consumer information.
  • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) of 1999 requires banking and financial institutions to protect the confidentiality of consumer data.
  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 says that certain paper and electronic records must be kept for five years. It also requires that public companies disclose and evaluate their internal controls. This means that an internal document retention and destruction policy is crucial.

If your workplace operates under any of these, keeping an organized office isn’t just convenient—it’s critical to making compliance a no-brainer.

The Most Effective Office Organization Tips

  • Do a big purge. If your company doesn’t have designated periodic cleanup days, implement your own! Get rid of any unnecessary items that are cluttering your space. Purge your files of every piece of paper you can get rid of—and, yes, have them shredded when necessary!
  • Reevaluate your needs. Maybe you brought in some photos and knickknacks when you first moved in to your office to warm up the space and make it your own. Do you still need that stuff? Or has it become dust-gathering clutter? Try clearing out the “extras” that don’t have a tangible purpose and see if that helps you keep things neater.
  • Label everything. It’s easy to think you’ll remember where you put a certain box or that you’ll be able to decipher a cryptic label later on. But when you are storing things that you’ll eventually need to find, use, or destroy (in the case of sensitive files), it is critical that you know exactly where everything is and, more importantly, what everything is. Don’t fall into the trap of holding on to everything “just in case.” When you know what and where everything is, you can dispose of it when necessary.
  • Clean up at night and start fresh every morning. Put everything away before you leave your office in the evening. Get used to having a clean space when you arrive in the morning. If you develop this habit, you’re less likely to go back to clutter!

Bonus tip: if you are operating under Gramm-Leach-Bliley, Sarbanes-Oxley, or any of the other privacy laws, make absolutely certain that everyone in your office is following protocol. You can ensure this by:

  • Thoughtfully going over the policies and procedures with new hires.
  • Periodically reviewing the policies with all staff.
  • Making sure that even staff who aren’t directly involved with data collection and filing know the basic tenets of the policy—and that they should ask before throwing away certain documents.

Organized and Compliant: A Goal You Can Reach

When you keep your office and personal workspace organized, staying in compliance with data policies isn’t an extra stress—it’s all part of the plan.

For additional assurance that your business or office is staying compliant, contact us here at TrueShred for a free estimate for scheduled or one-time shredding service.

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