moving boxEvery business stores a tremendous amount of official company records and documents. And more boxes are continually being added to the storage room. The corporate financial records are usually well maintained by the accounting department but what about all the other company records? This includes all the documents stored in the storage room plus the documents stashed in employee’s desks, file cabinets, empty offices and closets.

While much of it what is stored holds no value, some have proprietary company information. This may be customer lists, vendor agreements, marketing plans and research data. If they are not properly cared for then the law no longer considers them proprietary. They can be taken by current and ex-employees or competitors and the business is left no legal claim. To be protected by corporate piracy laws; proprietary information must be treated as such.

Some of the documents may also contain personal information that must be carefully managed by law. This includes any credit information which is covered by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA). Any health information is covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Every record the company holds should be carefully maintained and then properly disposed of when no longer needed. That means shredding old documents. The reality is that small businesses don’t have corporate librarians or even a position assigned to supervising the company’s record retention policies.

An office move is the perfect time to organize and prune the company records. This includes the official company records along with all the secondary records stashed about. The obvious reason is that it will save money to shred the records so you don’t have to pay to pack, move, and unpack them. The better reason is that a move is an opportunity to clean out unneeded documents that serve no value but can cause damage if left in the trash.

At least a month before a move the coordinator should have shedding bins placed around the office. Hand out the company’s record retention policy. Have every employee go through their desk and put un-needed and expired documents into the bins. The bins may need to be shredded several times as they fill up. Don’t forget to schedule a shredding service to come by after the move and shred whatever remains in the office. If not shredded, everything left behind will finds its way to the dumpster. It can be found by people looking for boxes or worse by an identity thief.

Don’t forget about the outdated computer equipment in the closet. The hard drives should be removed from all retired computers and then shredded. Everything else should be given to the local electronics recycling company. They will recycle what they can and properly dispose of the hazardous waste.

During the move take some basic steps to keep your information private. Hire quality movers and check their references. Make sure boxes are completely taped shut. Inventory every box to make sure they arrive in one piece at the new office. Take extra care with computers and servers. They hold a tremendous amount of data and cause many more problems when lost or stolen.

With some planning ahead and diligence during the move your information will remain private. And when you arrive it will be without all the clutter of outdated records.