A few months after the implementation of GDPR, how are businesses managing their data storage?

While many companies do use digital alternatives, a recent study found that 31% of firms still find their offices littered with heaps of paper documents, with only 17% claiming they are almost completely paperless.

If important physical documents are occupying valuable office space, it may be time to consider managing those records off-site.

A common misconception that many companies have about document storage services is they cost a lot of money. However, in reality they can be extremely cost-effective and save the business crucial time, while keeping your data safe at the same time.

The following points highlight the benefits of outsourcing your records to an off-site archive service:

1. Wasting space to store records

Storing records takes up a lot of space. Some types of documents must be kept for years; for example, VAT records should legally be stored for six years and trade documents need to be kept for four years. Most businesses dedicate an entire room for this purpose, and the required space will only get bigger. If firms are using the general working environment to store documents, there may not have enough space for staff to move safely, while also limited access areas of the building. This could potentially put the company at risk of breaching the Health and Safety at Work act.

2. No need to invest money storing records in the correct environmental conditions

To maintain the quality of the archived documents, it is important they are kept in a space that is not humid or damp. This can be an expensive task, and one which some businesses fail to do. Off-site storage facilities are equipped with industrial safety systems that will maintain the quality of your records as well as protect them from fires or natural disasters.

3. No risk of losing data

Recent GDPR requirements have given all businesses more reasons to keep records in a safe environment. If, for some reason, you are required to remove documents that include certain types of personal data under GDPR rules, it is important that you can access them quickly. Paper documents are often photocopied and can sometimes get into the wrong hands if not kept within a controlled space, which may lead to a data breach. Losing client files, confidential financial records and other vital information is a disaster for any business. However, archiving services keep the files constantly monitored using CCTV, while access is restricted to security-checked staff only. Any movement or retrieval of boxes and files are also logged using a scanning system for a full audit trail.

Jonathan Richardson, managing director at secure archiving specialist Russell Richardson, said: “Complying with the GDPR implementations is extremely important and by placing your records with a reliable company, you don’t need to worry about your paper documents leading to personal data 

4. Reduces legal risks

The chance of losing confidential documents makes companies extremely vulnerable to legal issues. The most serious violations of data breaches could result in a GDPR fine of up to €20 million (£17.7 million) or 4% of turnover.

Certain documents need to be stored for a length of time, for example a limited company must keep business and financial records for six years. Accident books, along with the company’s health and safety policy, must be kept as evidence in the event that an employee makes a compensation claim. Insurance documents are also important to keep as they can protect the company during legal disputes.

“As archiving isn’t regulated it can be a bit of a worry to find a company that you can trust with your important records. It is vital that you research the establishment, look at previous reviews and communicate with them to make sure it is a good fit for your business,” added Jonathan.

5. Saves staff time

Relying on employees to create and/or manage a document system can be very time consuming and leave little time for other duties. Being responsible for a document management system involves efficient planning, keeping up to date with rules regarding the length of time that documents containing sensitive information can be kept, knowing how these must be stored under GDPR, disposing out-of-date records and keeping the system updated.