In our technology driven landscape, it’s never been easier to click save, it’s never been easier to keep something on file and it’s never been easier to retain every little bit of information you can get your hands on. It’s the way to go. Why throw something out when there’s even the smallest chance you might need it later? Well, because unfortunately, all this convenience comes with a catch.

The ever growing culture of hoarding information is leading to unnecessary cost and risk. Whether it’s physical documents, emails, videos, images or data files, information is piling up and putting a strain on organisations’ resources. Not only is information being kept in enormous volumes, but oftentimes information is kept (in the name of Just In Case!) even if it is very rarely, if ever, needed or accessed.

Organisations facing this strain need to consider their practices and policies. It’s time for a hoarding intervention.

Solving Information Hoarding – Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery

Understanding the “why” of hoarding can be crucial to cutting down the clutter in the future. Experience shows us the fear of the unknown is the largest contributor to this Just in Case culture. Employees don’t want to run the risk of destroying information that they may need further down the track and they especially don’t want to cop the blame for being the one who got rid of it.

Practices and processes need to be adapted to manage hoarding, otherwise it will continue to produce significant costs and risks for organisations. These costs and risks can be categorised into four key areas:

  1. Security: Many organisations now collect significant amounts of customer information and any ‘mishaps’ regarding potentially sensitive material are a serious reputational risk that can impact an organisation’s bottom line. Hoarders are more likely to mix up or lose sensitive information making it increasingly important that information is kept controlled and secure.
  2. Efficiency: Information plays a crucial role in speed of response to market changes and customer concerns. Hoarders of paper or digital records are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to efficiency in meeting these demands. Information that is retained thoughtfully and maintained in an organised fashion gives you the best chance of finding whatever you need, whenever you need it.
  3. Space: Physical records take up space, plain and simple. This can produce immense, unnecessary costs, especially if stored in high-cost office areas such as an organisation’s CBD office. Hoarders are continually juggling the need for more space, at increasing cost.
  4. Operational Safety: Operational Health and Safety (OH&S) risks associated with the hoarding of physical records are often overlooked. Disorderly filing systems or storerooms can present risks to employees who need to access files and mountains of paper records present a significant fire risk.

Clearing Out – A Clutter Free Future

There is no doubt that workplace hoarding causes immense frustration. Employees struggle to find what they need, customers are made to wait through organisational delays and auditors and regulators are delayed in receiving timely records required to meet their legal obligations.

The first step in breaking the hoarding habit is clearing out stockpiled records. This helps to deal with cost and risk issues and allows the organisation a clean slate when moving forward. Beginning again with a clear and updated retention policy allows you to clarify any new processes and policies throughout the organisation.

There are multiple options available to clear out stockpile. Usually the safest and most effective option is to arrange shredding through an accredited and reputable third-party.

ZircoDATA is passionate and committed to helping your organisation tackle the challenges of information management. We believe breaking the hoarding habit begins by thoroughly communicating the negative consequences. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of understanding the cost and risk to start adopting changes and put your business back on the right track.