Like it or not, office hoteling is a reality for many workers today. For those whose work is self-contained, and who enjoy choosing where to do their work on any given day, the flexibility of hoteling is highly desirable. For those whose work requires access to physical elements (books, files, tools, electronic gadgetry, etc.), hoteling poses a productivity problem: Where do they keep all that stuff during off-hours if they don’t have an assigned desk where they can store it?
This has been a vexatious problem for facilities managers, office managers, and practice managers whose enterprises have embraced the concept of office hoteling. Hoteling has the undeniable advantage of reducing real estate costs through reduced office space. If only 50% of your employees are in the office most days, why are you paying for unused space?
But many types of businesses require quite a lot of “stuff” on the desk to get the job done. Maybe it’s a small-scale scanner for receipts, or a stack of documents that aren’t available online, or research materials for an ongoing project. Add to this the quantity of stuff many of us carry around through the day: workout clothes, commuting shoes, a heavy winter coat, the dry cleaning we picked up on the way to work. Without a fixed work area, all these personal and work-related items end up spread over the open workspace – not at all practical or aesthetically pleasing.
Managers are realizing that hoteling requires a type of storage solution they may not have needed in the past. Just as a hotel room contains a closet, a hoteling office needs lockers for all those personal things that shouldn’t be cluttering up the workspace.
But these aren’t the clunky hall lockers of our high school days. Today’s office lockers can be outfitted with smart digital locks linked to mobile phones for easy access. They can be sized to fit the needs of the workforce – full length or compact – and the exteriors can be customized to complement the office aesthetic. They can be an asset to the interior design rather than just an annoying necessity.
A conversation with a designer or storage consultant can point you in the direction of a solution that fits your office hoteling needs. Hoteling doesn’t have to make employees’ stuff a productivity burden, as long as a place is provided for all that stuff.
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From finance to banking to healthcare to day care, industry regulatory compliance is part of the business of doing business. Part of compliance – a big part – is records management, and many of those records are in paper form. Paper has a long and noble history, but it is a very labor-intensive medium, especially when a compliance audit demands supporting documents for your operations. If your paper documents haven’t been converted into searchable e-documents by a document conversion expert, your mission-related productivity will suffer while your team rummages through files.
OCR adds searchability
Locating a specific piece of information, even if a document has been scanned and filed in an electronic archive, is an arduous and time-consuming task unless the document was scanned via OCR (optical character reader) software. A standard PDF conversion is not readily searchable; to make a PDF searchable, it must be re-scanned through OCR software. Often the OCR software must be custom-formatted to understand certain areas within the document (account numbers, signatures, etc.), a task requiring expertise that may not be part of an in-house administrator’s skill set.
Metadata categorizes and adds history
Auditors may also inquire about a document’s origins: when a document was created, who created it, who scanned it and when, what kind of document it is, and whether it has any related documents or transactions. Tracking down a document’s history is quite time-consuming if there is no metadata. Most documents created on a computer have at least some form of metadata tags (date, file type, and creator, at a minimum), but scanned documents have almost no metadata tags. Metadata tagging can be speeded up through automation, but like OCR scanning, expert customization is needed to make the automation effective and accurate.
Clearly, in any regulated business, it makes good sense to build a searchable, categorized document database that supports compliance. But it’s complicated. And a less-than-expertly created database is unreliable, and often unnecessarily expensive. Follow the advice of Inc. Magazine to find a skilled, experienced vendor to take your enterprise through the document conversion process:
- Talk to a vendor’s former employees
- Talk to a vendor’s customers who have provided testimonials
- Look at employee reviews
- Think like a journalist doing investigative research
With a well-designed and compliant digital document database in place, you can spend your time making your business productive and profitable.
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The new year always feels like a clean slate, with opportunities for advancements of all kinds in the coming months. Now is the time to organize and make your business ready for those opportunities. But as you look around your office and analyze the various areas where organizational improvements are needed, there’s a fundamental question to ask: Do you have the necessary organizational tools?
Marie Kondo, the organizing expert and author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” counsels her clients to tackle organizational tasks by category rather than physical area. Paper, for example, is a major category for most offices. Financial documents, marketing materials, HR records, client orders, and so on – they seem to accumulate effortlessly while we are focused on other mission-related tasks.
Dividing a mass of paper into a “keep” pile and a “shred” pile seems straightforward, but in fact each document requires a deliberate decision regarding its future. In some cases, an electronic version (scan) of a document can be sufficient for future needs, and the original paper can then be shredded. Other documents should be saved in paper form even if they are also scanned. Office-supply retailer Staples offers a list of documents that businesses should retain, especially notarized documents or papers with original signatures.
The scanning and shredding process will reduce the volume of paper in your office, but even so, your enterprise must hold on to a formidable quantity of paper documents. This is where a high-density mobile shelving system really shines as an organizational tool. Not only do these systems keep papers safe from a variety of hazards, they can actually reduce your office storage footprint by eliminating the fixed aisles between file cabinets. Just by organizing your paper, you can gain extra space for extra productivity in the coming months.
And extra productivity is the reason you wanted to get organized in the first place. A high-density mobile shelving system is well worth a look if you’re looking at ways to get ready for what’s next.