Know the Four Stages of Your Office Files and Always Stay Organized

Bankers Box document life cycle

The documents in your business actually have a life cycle, passing through different stages of development. Understanding these phases gives you a better grip on records organization for your business, improves overall workplace productivity and gives you the peace of mind of an orderly office.

Stage 1: Active Files

Active files are always in use, need to be  kept close at hand and play a daily and often critical role in your workplace.  Active files are never stored or archived, of course, yet they still need to remain organized so that in the flurry of a bustling office they do not become lost or accidentally discarded.

Active File Solutions

Depending on the number of active files used, different types of filing systems keep records accessible and organized.

Open Sorters for Shared Active Files

Sorters display critical files openly for shared office use, while labelled shelves on the sorter maintain organization. Policies regarding shared active files may include a sign in and sign out process to track important documents around the office.

Bankers Box sorters for active files

Desktop Organizers Keep Active Files Handy

If files are not shared, a desktop organizer can provide easy and quick accessibility for specific documents used exclusively by certain employees. These types of organizers also offer the flexibility for managing different document types from binders of information to folders of multi-page records, to single page documents.

active file organizers

Managing the “In-Between” Nature of Semi-Active Files

Semi-active documents are those that are no longer vital to the everyday operations of the business, yet need to be retained for legal reasons. These types of documents are the most likely to become lost or accidentally discarded as their lack of importance to everyday business puts them “out of sight and out of mind” until an incident occurs in which they are required and they are nowhere to be found.

Basic and Extra Space Saving Systems for Semi-Active Files

Storage for those types of files still keeps them accessible, yet out of the way, most likely in a records room or in an office.

Only have a few files? Use the basic space-saving solutions that stack two units high for desk side or in the back of an office for infrequent access and storage.

semi-active file storage

Have lots of semi-active files? Use an extra spacing-saving solution, stacking 5 units high, storing quite a few semi-active files and always keeping them ready for unexpected and urgent office needs.

semi-active file drawer system

Archival Records Storage

Archival documents lose their semi-active urgency yet still have importance and need to be retained long-term. These may include tax documentation, employee records, including past employees, and long-term legal documents such as contracts.

Archival records may be stored on or off-site. Using the flexibility of storage boxes allows easy access to these files even though they are in storage. The lightweight design also allows the boxes to be easily transported and stacked , whether in a large records room or in a storage unit. They can be labelled for quick identification when they need to be opened up as well.

The average business purchases up to 12 of these Bankers Boxes a year to archive important documents. Maintaining a retention policy helps keep these documents from simply taking up space without a purpose. Know what files are put in archival storage, how long they have been there and when it is determined that they should be destroyed, especially if they contain any confidential information.

Records Destruction

Most documents reach the document destruction stage. Here are the list of the most common documents, outlined by the IRS, that are ready to be shredded by a business after archival storage.*

  • Business Income Tax Returns and Supporting Documents.-7 years
  • Employee Tax Records- 4 years
  • Human Resources Files 7-10 years
  • Bank account and credit card statements- 7 years
*IRS http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p583.pdf

 

 

Are You Storing Half-Filled Boxes? How to Conduct a Box Audit

archiving-documents-with-bankers-box

Evaluating your records room needs, you may realize that many boxes taking up space may be half-filled or even empty. As records get moved around throughout the year, inefficiencies in records management can arise that can consume critical space that can be used by new files and Bankers Boxes. 

A simple box audit is a four step process that helps eliminate wasted records storage space.

Step 1: Separate boxes into two groups: those boxes that need to be retained and those that can be destroyed.

Step 2: Capture details at the file level. What files in the retained boxes are still relevant? The labeled box may need to be retained, but perhaps some of the files inside are no longer needed. Often a box is designated as retained, then at the file level, most of the folders inside end up being shredded, leaving you with an empty box.

Step 3: For files that are retained, consolidate and restructure. You may be able to organize a handful of files from a nearly empty box into a box that has some reserve space. This may require relabeling of retained storage boxes.

Step 4: Destroy all unneeded records.

Using this simple organizing method, one company was able to reduce the volume of records in storage from 7000 cubic feet to only 495 cubic feet!

Not sure how long you should keep records, the IRS has some tips: Records-Keeping for Taxes

Guide for Determining How Bankers Boxes You Need.

How Many Files Fit in a standard Banker’s Box?

Here’s the dimensions and capacity for a standard banker/copy box: 12.5′”W x 15.5′”D x 10.5′”H

Depending on the type of paper and the amount of file folders that you have in each box, you can fit approximately 2000 to 2500 sheets of paper.

 

How Many Bankers Boxes Fit in Storage?

To figure out how many boxes of documents you have, think about this:

If your documents aren’t packed tightly and you have 150 sheets per inch, then you need one standard banker’s box for every 13” to 16” of space on your shelves (round it down to a foot to make it easier).

If you can’t fit one more piece of paper on your shelf, you’re probably closer to 200 sheets per inch.  In that case, you’ll need one standard Banker’s Box for every 10” to 12” of space on your shelves.