3 Ways to Implement a Clean Desk Policy When Working From Home

A clean desk policy sounds pretty straight forward. It’s as simple as keeping your desk neat and tidy, right? In a sense, yes—but also no.

It’s actually the difference between ensuring workplace safety and creating trouble for not only yourself, but your job.

While many of us are working at home either temporarily or indefinitely due to COVID-19, it’s a good practice to continue using the clean desk policy when working from home.

Whether you’re at home or in the office, instilling a clean desk policy for yourself can save time and trouble. Here are three tips for implementing a policy, and making sure it stays in place.

What is a Clean Desk Policy?

A clean desk policy is a company’s directive to ensure that all confidential documents are cleared from their workspace at the end of the day and securely stored or placed in shredding bins.

It’s a great way to keep offices clutter-free and tidy as well as protecting secure data and documents.

The University of Cincinnati’s clean desk policy calls for employees to be diligent about storing sensitive and confidential information—whether on paper, storage media, or hardware.

The university’s policy states that employees should lock computers when their desk is unoccupied, and properly shut down at the end of the day.

Passwords, printouts, storage devices, keys, and even whiteboards containing “restricted or controlled documents” must be removed, erased, or placed in a locked drawer or compartment of some sort when not in use.

Restricted or controlled documents can be anything containing personal information, health records, financial data, or even graded papers if you’re a teacher.

What your business considers restricted or controlled documents will vary, but a clean desk policy ensures protection no matter what.

1. Create a System for Storing Documents

Having a records retention schedule is a great way to ensure you won’t build any clutter, especially when working from home.

Certain businesses have to keep records for a set amount of time. Even if this isn’t the case, you should create a system for retaining, storing, and destroying documents.

In your home, this could mean keeping a lockbox or filing cabinet near your desk to store documents. Once a week—or at the end of every workday—be sure to organize the records by category, or any system that fits your recordkeeping.

After a set amount of time (this will depend on how long you need to retain any documents), the documents may need to be moved or destroyed.

Creating a records retention schedule will keep all of that on track so you don’t have to think about it after your home office feels like a never-ending wall of documents.

2. Which Documents are Worth Keeping?

We’ve defined important work documents as anything containing personal information, health records, financial data, or anything relevant to your career.

But what about personal records? What’s worth keeping? Where should you keep them? How long should you keep those?

Important home documents worth keeping could include your passport, annual tax return (And receipts if you’re self-employed or a business owner!), birth certificate, will, social security cards… the list is never-ending.

Again, what you decide to keep is ultimately your choice, but you should keep the longevity of any documents you hold onto in mind.

3. Create a System for Shredding Documents

Disposing of documents may feel scary at first, but it’s necessary to manage your home office. A document destruction policy is just as important as a clean desk policy. Talk to your company to find out their document destruction policy. Should you bring documents into the office once a week or once a month to add to the shredding bin?

If you need help with records keeping, retrieval, and destruction, contact us today. We’ll help you implement a clean desk policy, as well as find you the best option for your home office or business.

Ways to Implement a Clean Desk Policy When Working From Home

clean desk policy

A clean desk policy sounds pretty straight forward. It’s as simple as keeping your desk neat and tidy, right? In a sense, yes—but also no.

It’s actually the difference between ensuring workplace safety and creating trouble for not only yourself, but your job.

While many of us are working at home either temporarily or indefinitely due to COVID-19, it’s a good practice to continue using the clean desk policy when working from home.

Whether you’re at home or in the office, instilling a clean desk policy for yourself can save time and trouble. Here are three tips for implementing a policy, and making sure it stays in place.

What is a Clean Desk Policy?

A clean desk policy is a company’s directive to ensure that all confidential documents are cleared from their workspace at the end of the day and securely stored or placed in shredding bins.

It’s a great way to keep offices clutter-free and tidy as well as protecting secure data and documents.

The University of Cincinnati’s clean desk policy calls for employees to be diligent about storing sensitive and confidential information—whether on paper, storage media, or hardware.

The university’s policy states that employees should lock computers when their desk is unoccupied, and properly shut down at the end of the day.

Passwords, printouts, storage devices, keys, and even whiteboards containing “restricted or controlled documents” must be removed, erased, or placed in a locked drawer or compartment of some sort when not in use.

Restricted or controlled documents can be anything containing personal information, health records, financial data, or even graded papers if you’re a teacher.

What your business considers restricted or controlled documents will vary, but a clean desk policy ensures protection no matter what.

1. Create a System for Storing Documents

Having a records retention schedule is a great way to ensure you won’t build any clutter, especially when working from home.

Certain businesses have to keep records for a set amount of time. Even if this isn’t the case, you should create a system for retaining, storing, and destroying documents.

In your home, this could mean keeping a lockbox or filing cabinet near your desk to store documents. Once a week—or at the end of every workday—be sure to organize the records by category, or any system that fits your recordkeeping.

After a set amount of time (this will depend on how long you need to retain any documents), the documents may need to be moved or destroyed.

Creating a records retention schedule will keep all of that on track so you don’t have to think about it after your home office feels like a never-ending wall of documents.

2. Which Documents are Worth Keeping?

We’ve defined important work documents as anything containing personal information, health records, financial data, or anything relevant to your career.

But what about personal records? What’s worth keeping? Where should you keep them? How long should you keep those?

Important home documents worth keeping could include your passport, annual tax return (And receipts if you’re self-employed or a business owner!), birth certificate, will, social security cards… the list is never-ending.

Again, what you decide to keep is ultimately your choice, but you should keep the longevity of any documents you hold onto in mind.

3. Create a System for Shredding Documents

Disposing of documents may feel scary at first, but it’s necessary to manage your home office. A document destruction policy is just as important as a clean desk policy. Talk to your company to find out their document destruction policy. Should you bring documents into the office once a week or once a month to add to the shredding bin?

If you need help with records keeping, retrieval, and destruction, contact us today. We’ll help you implement a clean desk policy, as well as find you the best option for your home office or business.

What to Do with Checks After Mobile Deposits

While it may not be one of the most used forms of payment anymore, accepting checks at your business is a smart move. Checks have lower fees than credit card transactions, and they allow people to buy your products and services if they don’t have a credit card or cash on hand.

Technology today even allows you to deposit the checks without going to the bank. You can do this through mobile deposits. If you use this service, you may wonder what to do with the checks after depositing them. Learning the right way to handle these checks after depositing them is vital for your business.

Continue reading to find out what to do with checks after mobile deposits.

Keep the Checks for 30 Days After Making the Deposits

Even though you can instantly deposit a check through your bank’s mobile app, it may not be deposited into your account for days or weeks. 

The mobile deposited check will still need time for the check to clear, and some banks place holds on checks for a few days or weeks. 

It’s a good idea to hold on to the check for at least 30 days or until you’re sure that the check has cleared and the funds have been posted to your account.

While you wait for the check to clear, place the checks somewhere secure like your safe to protect them while you wait. Write “DEPOSITED” in big letters on the front of the check to avoid redepositing them or in case the check falls into the wrong hands. 

Keeping them longer than needed increases the risk of them falling into the wrong hands and puts your customers at risk for identity fraud or being out more money.

How to Safely Get Rid of Deposited Checks

After the checks have posted to your bank account, what should you do with these deposited checks? As with any banking document or anything with personal information, it should be securely destroyed.

Offsite shredding services provide a way to get rid of deposited checks safely. This service also helps to destroy other documents that contain sensitive, personal details.

A company that offers this service collects your documents and shreds them offsite with other documents making it impossible for anyone to put back together. 

What to Do With Checks After Mobile Deposits

Now that you know what to do with checks after mobile deposits, contact us to set up offsite shredding services of your mobile deposited checks and other confidential documents. 

Check out our website or give us a call to learn more about the services we offer.

Do You Know Long to Keep Employee Files After Termination?

Do you have some employee terminations but not sure how long you should keep the records?  The average person will have 12 different jobs in a lifetime, so at some point, you will most likely lose an employee either by termination or resignation.

There are rules you need to know when it comes to employee records and files. Keep reading to learn these guidelines on how long to keep employee files.

What Is Included in Employee Records?

Employee records contain information such as payroll records, benefits enrollment, medical records, personnel files, and also hiring information. Human resources typically keep the job-related materials and payroll records may be stored separately in the payroll department.

Information about the employee’s medical and health information is regulated with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and needs to remain confidential.

How Long to Keep Hiring Records

You should save your hiring information for one year after you make a decision. This includes interview notes, applications, resumes, and job postings. This is needed in case anyone questions your hiring decision. 

Laws, such as Title VII and Americans with Disabilities Act, may require you to prove you were in compliance with your hiring. These documents will help you.

How Long Do You Have to Keep Employee Records on Payroll 

Law requires you to maintain and keep all payroll records for three years. You want to have a record of how much every employee was paid and how many hours each employee worked at your company. 

For exempt employees, you won’t need to maintain time records since pay is the same no matter how many hours the employee worked.

For non-exempt employees, be sure you keep a record of time worked as well. You also need to make sure he or she is labeled appropriately or you could owe additional compensation for overtime.

You also need to have information on how you calculated pay such as salary plus commission, set salary, overtime, hourly pay, or pay by project. You need this information for tax and pay questions but also an employee may need for FMLA eligibility.

If asked, you should be able to prove that you paid your employees appropriately for the hours worked even after the relationship was terminated.

How Long to Keep I-9 Forms

You should store and maintain employee I-9 Forms away from personnel records. You need to keep these forms for three years. 

You should have these in separate files in case the government requests to check them. Having this form separate from other personnel files will keep the employee’s other information private from other workers.

How Long to Keep Employee Files

The U.S. Equal Employment Commission (EEOC) requires a company to keep all employee records and personnel for at least one year after the termination date. These files include any information on:

  • Employee performance
  • Attendance notes
  • Emergency contact information
  • Acknowledgment of employee handbook
  • Resignation letter
  • Training records
  • Contact information
  • Employment contract
  • Exit interview
  • Any notes on disciplinary actions

These files are basically anything else related to the job but not medical information. 

Looking for Record Management or Shredding?

Now you have a basic idea of how long to keep employee files even after someone is no longer at your company. 

If you are looking for help with your record management or help to shred your documents after you no longer need them, contact us today.  We can help secure your documents for you. 

Home Office Safety Tips: 4 Tips for Protecting Confidential Documents When Working From Home

In 2017, around 8 million people worked from home. That figure has continued to rise, especially now, with more employees working from home during the pandemic.

While working from home has a lot of advantages, there are also some disadvantages. If you work from home and have access to your company’s data, it can make you vulnerable. Your privacy can be unprotected and the company’s confidential documents could be at risk. 

There is, however, a way to make your home office safer and protect confidential documents. If you want to learn about office safety tips you can take at home, keep reading to learn more ways to keep your company’s data and your privacy safe.

Protect Your Network

Your home router should have encryption so outsiders can’t hack your network. 

Encryption with the options of a WPA3 and a WPA2 on your router gives you some security in your home. It protects your internet and what files you store from your company on your personal internet. 

Keep Your Belongings Safe

Home office safety tips also include keeping your belongings safe. That essentially means not being careless of where you keep your laptop or the files you take home from the office. 

These confidential company documents might be for your eyes only, which makes it even more important that you keep them in a spot where people won’t see them but also where they won’t get damaged. 

Use a Company-Wide Storage System

Another home office safety tip is to work with the company on creating a DropBox or OneDrive storage system. 

You can find software that helps keep documents organized and protected. Instead of saving documents on your device, which is not always the safest place, you can save it on software that is designed to protect and organize files. 

Follow Protocols

If you recently started working from home, you may not be inclined to follow company rules because nobody is watching you. 

However, it’s even more important that you follow the company protocols when it comes to protecting company documents are disposing of them. Your home office is essentially an extension of the company office you work at. 

You should follow a protocol to avoid any security breach that could put you or your company in jeopardy. 

Home Office Safety Tips Can Protect Your Job and Your Company’s Data

These home office safety tips can help you not only protect your belongings and the data of your company, but it can also help you increase your productivity.

You’ll feel more organized and secure knowing you have security at home. 

When the company’s data is violated because of the lack of security measures in your home, it can cost you your job and the company a major financial loss. Having security measures in place can prevent this from ever happening. 

For more information on securing documents, you can contact us here

Our COVID-19 Response Plan

covid-19 update

With the Shelter in Place order issued by Governor Holcomb going into effect at midnight tonight, we wanted to keep our customers up-to-date on our operations during the COVID-19 shutdown.

We know that many of our clients will still have confidential information through this time and our objective remains to keep your corporate information safe through confidential records management and destruction services.

In an effort to keep our clients and employees safe, we have made the following necessary operational changes.

Records Management Services

We know the files and boxes we store for you are essential to the operation of your critical business and medical facilities. We will continue to take requests for file and box deliveries however we will not be picking up new files or boxes during the shut-down period.

We have instructed our staff to frequently sanitize all supplies, containers, and trucks and will practice safe social distancing in order to keep everyone safe.

Shredding Services

Shredding service is limited, please email lfritz@federal-recordsmanagement.com or call (260) 267-9652 regarding your individual business. We will return your call within 24-48 hours.

Drop-Off Shredding Services

We will not be accepting drop off shredding until the mandatory shut-down period has lifted

Shred Events

All shred events have been canceled through June 1st and we will re-evaluate this service at that time.

Stay Safe During the COVID-19 Shutdown

If your employees are working from home, please remind them that the safety of their documents is always critical and ask them to store any printed papers or notes in a bag or box at their home. Once they are able to return to work they can bring them to your office and place the contents into our shred containers.

We will continue to closely monitor developments and recommendations from the CDC and our state and local governments and take appropriate measures as needed.

We wish all of our clients good health and appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate this uncertain time.

Why Should You Use Offsite Document Shredding?

Are you considering whether to use offsite document shredding? Each year in the United States, 7-10 percent of the population falls victim to identity theft. A major way that a thief can access personal information is by going through documents that aren’t discarded safely.

You can protect your business and customers from being victims of identity theft by using an offsite shredder.

Read on to learn why you should use this service and how it can improve your business.

Benefits of Offsite Shredding

Offsite document shredding will benefit your business in many different ways. By using a professional offsite document shredder, you reduce the risk that documents with sensitive personal information end up in the hands of the wrong person.

The documents you want to shred will go in a secure bin or other containers where they will be picked up and shredded securely.

Offsite document shredders also help you keep your office clean.

Instead of having documents pile up on your desk and around your office, you can keep those documents in one place. This will keep your business running more efficiently!

Uses AAA Certified Professionals

The best document shredding services employ experienced AAA certified professionals.

At Federal Records Management & Shredding, we are the only AAA NAID certified shredding company in Fort Wayne, Indiana. NAID which stands for the National Association for Information Destruction sets the standard for secure data destruction.

Only 1,000 service providers on five continents hold the NAID’s AAA Certification. Companies that hold this certification are compliant with all known data protection laws where they operate.

Hiring a shredding service with the NAID AAA certification will give your company peace of mind that it is employing only the best in the industry.

Keeps Your Company Compliant

Being compliant with the rules and regulations governing the handling of sensitive information is crucial to your success.

Violating the safe-keeping of sensitive information can result in thousands of dollars in fines to your business. Depending on the size of your company, these fines can be detrimental to the continuous operation of your business.

An offsite document company knows the rules and regulations that govern the handling of secure information. In today’s fast-paced business world, these laws can change often.

By employing a professional shredding company, your business can focus on customers. You won’t have to spend time and money learning about an area outside of its expertise.

Wrapping Up: The Importance of Offsite Document Shredding

An offsite document shredding company can help your business guard against the threat of someone else recovering sensitive and secure information.

Federal Records Management & Shredding is your #1 source for shredding and document retention in the Fort Wayne area! We offer secure shredding on- and off-site, while also handling document retention and storage.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your business!

Paper File Organization for 2020: Understanding What Documents to Purge or Keep

Now that we’re into the second decade of the millennia, there’s no excuse for your office to look like it’s stuck in the ’80s. Nothing tells customers you’re out of touch or disorganized more than piles of paperwork strewn about.

Even in the age of the internet, physical paperwork still has its place among lots of businesses. You can still present yourself as a modern and up to date office while relying on physical documents. The key is having an efficient paper file organization method.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and get organized in 2020, read on for some tips on how to get your business to where you want it to be.

Create a Paper File Organization System

Your office likely already has a process on how to handle the paperwork it receives. It’s also pretty likely that a lot of employees have their own variations on that process, which can clog up the flow.

Create a clear and concise procedure on how to handle paperwork, including time frames each step should be done. It may take a while to get your team on board, but a successful procedure is made not in the planning stage but the consistent implementation stage.

Consider how you’re storing all these documents as well. Are they easily accessible to those who most often would need to access it? Are they well organized within the storage containers you’re using?

Different types of paperwork might require different methods of organization. Let your team know that this is a trial and error process and that their feedback is helpful in determining the right adjustments to make.

Stick to a Records Retention Schedule

As you’re organizing paper documents, keep the future in mind. The last thing you want is to revert back into the mess you’re trying to work yourself out of. Create a retention schedule based on how your business tracks time (yearly, quarterly, seasonally) to review what should be archived or destroyed.

Once you work out what this long term schedule looks like, make sure it’s viewable by your team. They should be able to anticipate these milestones so they can prepare for them. Send reminders as well. Once the schedule becomes an office habit, you’ll see an increase in productivity.

How to Dispose of Your Documents

Once you know which documents need to go, the best solution is to shred them. The permanency of this can be a little scary at first, but having a clean office without documents you will never need is a great benefit.

There are different options for shredding, including offsite shredding for larger volumes of paperwork. There are also a lot of myths surrounding how paper shredding works in an office setting. Make sure you’re well informed before you make a decision on what works best for your business.

You might also want to consider destroying electronic data as well. Hackers are constantly evolving their methods to obtain personal information on your customers. The best way to avoid a catastrophe is permanently deleting any information that isn’t immediately pertinent to your workflow. You can’t rob an empty vault.

Get Your Business Organized Today

Remember to consult with your employees concerning your paper file organization ideas. They may have some insight into things you haven’t considered. The point is to make things easier on them so they can better do their jobs.

What organization methods have you used in the past that are obsolete now? How have other facets of business in your industry adapted over time? Comment and let us know!

And if you’re interested in records management or shredding for your business, request a quote today.

5 Common Paper Shredding Myths Businesses Believe

The introduction of FACTA and HIPAA legislation has created a surge in demand for the destruction of data. With data compliance laws breathing down your neck, shredding is more important than ever.

However, it’s not just enough to keep a shredder in the office for when you think you will need it. When considering what shredding is actually good for, you need to be able to debunk the myths surrounding it.

Here are five common shredding myths that way too many businesses still believe.

Myth No.1: No One Will Go Through My Trash

This is one of those myths that just won’t die. Too many businesses don’t even think about when and where to shred documents, as they assume they aren’t important enough for someone to go through their trash.

This is missing the point entirely. People can and do go through all kinds of business trash with alarming regularity.

They will be looking for personal and financial information that they can use for identity fraud and theft. No business is safe and it only takes one data breach to ruin your company.

Myth No.2: My Employees Will Shred Everything

In a perfect world, all of your employees would shred papers whenever necessary. However, when your team has a lot of work on their plate, shredding rarely takes center stage.

If you don’t have a proper paper shredding service or system in place, documents will inevitably pile up. The result is that the things that need to get shredded will slip through the net.

Myth No.3: Shredding Isn’t Necessary for My Business

When considering where to shred paper, too many people assume it only applies to businesses that deal with medical data or banking information. This is wrong.

FACTA and HIPPAA affect virtually every business in the United States in some way. Any data you have relating to a person or finances needs to get shredded. No ifs, no buts.

Myth No.4: My Business Data is Automatically Protected by Law

If you’re concerned about corporate privacy, don’t get complacent. Too many business leaders assume that the Corporate Espionage Act means they will always be covered if secrets are stolen.

However, this Act only applies to information that the company treats as a secret. If you haven’t shredded important documents and they get stolen, they weren’t being treated as secretive in the eyes of the law.

A secure shred policy is the only way to guarantee that your secrets are protected both physically and legally.

Myth No.5: Having a Shredder Means I am Compliant

It really does bear repeating that simply having a shredder in your office does not make you compliant with HIPAA or FACTA. Even routine shredding is no guarantee of compliance and many store-bought shredders don’t shred documents fine enough.

If you want an airtight policy, your best bet is to use a professional shredding service that can provide a certificate of destruction. This way you will always be covered in the eyes of the law.

Learn More

Debunking shredding myths is the first step towards security and compliance. To learn more about how to do shredding right, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our professional team today to make sure your confidential business documents are protected.

Stay On Time, and On Top of Data, With a Records Retention Schedule! Here’s How to Make One

With the advancement in technology, the amount of paper documents a business maintains has decreased. Maintaining paper records is still important due to concerns regarding system failures and lost data. And, companies are required to keep certain records for set periods of time.

It’s easy to get into the habit of storing records in back offices and warehouses. Over time boxes accumulate and you start storing them in areas designated for other uses. Having a records retention schedule is important and a way to end the overaccumulation of documents.

By having a schedule, your business is intentional when it comes to securely destroying documents that you no longer need.

Does your business need a records retention policy? Keep reading for tips on helping your business manage its records.

What is Records Retention?

Records retention is the act of preserving documents and records generated by a business. Each industry has its own guidelines on which records need to be saved and which can be destroyed.

For example, most business records should be retained for a minimum of seven years. There are some records such as deeds and mortgages that should never be destroyed.

Records are often kept in file cabinets and boxes. If you have a lot of documents and documents that you will maintain indefinitely, you may want to consider hiring a records management company. They’ll store your important documents, saving you space while leaving you with the peace of mind that you can easily access them when needed.

Key Steps to Creating a Records Retention Schedule

Creating a records retention schedule has multiple layers that will touch each area of your business. Whether it’s accounting records, payroll, or purchasing, a schedule needs to be devised for each area.

Compliance

Part of running a business includes being aware of compliance regulations that affect your industry. Rules for record retention can vary between healthcare, banking, card processing, and human resources-related businesses.

You’ll want to review records retention rules in advance of creating a schedule.

Develop a Team

Your business may have multiple departments. Create a team with a representative from each area. This way you are not creating a one size fits all solution. Your records retention schedule needs to be specific to each department. In addition, you want each department in compliance with the schedule.

Review of Records

In cases where you’re implementing a policy for the first time, creating an inventory of existing documents is important. Understand what you have on hand and where it’s stored.

While doing your inventory, prepare non-essential records for your first document destruction appointment.

Creating a Policy

With your team in place and all compliance regulations understood, create a records retention policy. This is a document outlining rules for retention and paper shredding. The policy is distributed to all personnel along with the newly created records retention schedule.

We Can Keep Your Records Safe

Having a records retention schedule helps your business in many ways. Most importantly, you are in compliance with industry standards. If you need help creating and implementing your Records Retention Policy, contact us. Our team of specialists can help your company develop a schedule and destroy data when needed.