No matter how much your business may try to use digital recordkeeping options, paper documents and files often remain stubbornly necessary. You may need to retain old records, maintain paper files due to governing agency rules, or store physical samples. The dream of a paperless office may never become a complete reality for your business.
No matter why you have to keep physical records, they need the right storage location. And an off-site storage unit could be the best answer for many reasons. What are some of these reasons? Explore a few to consider as you analyze your physical storage needs.
Paper records are susceptible to degradation in the wrong environment. In general, the humidity and temperature should remain low and reasonably consistent. Storage professionals often recommend a temperature of about 72–75 degrees and humidity no higher than 35–50%. This prevents mold and mildew from forming and discourages pests that destroy or make your records unusable.
Achieving climate control in a temperate area may be possible with simple outdoor-access storage units. However, in the Twin Cities area, extreme weather changes make it more difficult. Your best bet is to use an indoor unit at the minimum and spring for true climate control whenever possible.
Customer records may not be as exciting as a fine wine, but they have some of the same environmental needs. One of the more important is that they should not sit exposed to direct sunlight. This is particularly vital if your records include anything printed on thermal paper — including irreplaceable original receipts and handheld device printouts. And, unlike your business site, storage units have no windows.
Paper, of course, is highly flammable. So the more of it you have stored around your business, the more you are at risk of fire. Accidents happen, but a small industrial mishap can become a big problem if it happens around a large amount of highly flammable paper records. Piles of records can also create dangerous bottlenecks if there is a fire or other emergency. Move them elsewhere to keep everyone safer.
Perhaps you could squeeze those old files into some nook or cranny at your primary business site. This would save money, but it may make using those records all but impossible. If your accountant needs a few specific files for the bank auditor, they will have to search through boxes, locate the right documents, produce or copy them, and get it all back into place again. Is there room to do this?
Because you can tailor the size and shape of your storage unit to your specific goals, it provides the room you need to work. Rent a space large enough to organize the files, leave walkways to access them, and even include a small work area right on site. And the space can grow or shrink with your needs.
Could your business operations be a risk to the records themselves? If you use hazardous materials, chemicals, or open flames, all these flammable documents are in danger. Maybe you just have a lot of busy workers and customers, boosting the risk of accidents. Or your main business location could be at higher risk of localized natural disasters like flooding.
It is easy to move records off-site for their own protection, storing them in a safer geographic location. Storage unit facilities also have little other activity, meaning fewer opportunities for accidents. Finally, they generally still provide live monitoring of units to ensure everything remains safe and intact.
What sort of information is on your records? Do they include personally identifiable information about clients? Payroll and human resources documents about employees past and present? Credit card numbers and old copies of checks? Trade secrets or financial information for your company? If the answer is yes—or you are not sure—take extra steps to provide proper security.
A storage facility gives you this increased security with no added cost. You secure each unit yourself and control who has access to it and when. The facility adds security in layers, including building security and perimeter gates. There are often additional features like cameras, motion sensors, patrols by staff, or alarms.
Although it is not necessarily ideal to have to keep paper records, you likely want to make sure they are kept properly no matter what. Get help finding the best solution for your document needs by meeting with the staff at North Star Mini Storage. We offer a variety of storage unit sizes, types, and locations to serve any business in the Twin Cities area. Call today to learn more, or stop by any of our eight convenient locations.