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How Many Documents Does It Take To Change A Sack?

At Hungry Shredder, we are all about making sure your sensitive information and documents are disposed of securely, without the hassle and mess of feeding them into the home or office shredder. We’ve helped hundreds of business owners and home residents stay on top of their shredding needs and protect themselves against identity theft, fraud and financial loss, all by supplying a simple sack. But how does a sack do all of this, and how often do you really need a new one?

What Is A Shredding Sack?

A shredding sack is pretty much what it says on the tin (well, sack). Our jumbo ‘drop-off’ paper sacks are large, sealable storage sacks that can easily and discreetly fit into your home or business. Thanks to a ‘block bottom’ they are completely free standing, so they can be stored anywhere from next to your desk to in a cupboard or large drawer. The sacks are incredibly durable, standing up to everyday use and can support a large amount of weight (around 10kg per sack). Each sack is 60cm tall, 48cm wide and 13cm deep, allowing for the perfect storage of paper before shredding. All you have to do is fill it, seal it and arrange a convenient drop-off time that suits you. Our unique shredding sacks have been manufactured to be completely recyclable, so they can be shredded along with their contents.

Our ‘collection’ sacks are slightly different, made out of extremely tough plastic with a permanent seal for ultimate security.  Similar to our ‘drop off’ sacks, all you have to do is fill it, seal it but then for even greater convenience, arrange a collection time that suits you and have it picked up from your home or office.

So Why Do I Need One? 

That’s all well and good, but why do you need a shredding sack in the first place? Well, have you ever spent hours bent over an office shredder, feeding in page after page and staring longingly at the clock? Sadly, this is a reality for many businesses and home owners who have all sorts of confidential information written down. Sensitive information like addresses, names, credit card information or bank details all need to be disposed of correctly in order to avoid identity theft or, if you’re in business, fulfil your legal obligations. But instead of struggling with the shredder, Hungry Shredder has a better option. Just order some of our shredding sacks through our website, fill them up and let us do the rest. Your secure shredding sacks can be collected directly from your home or business, or you can drop them off at our convenient secure shredding centre. The bags are then fed through an industrial grade, hyper secure shredding machine to ensure complete destruction, and you are provided with a certificate of destruction to prove it. So instead of wasting hours shredding your documents yourself, spend seconds putting them in a bag and know that your data is safe and will be completely destroyed. 

How Often Do I Need To Order A New Sack?

How often you will need a new sack for your paperwork depends very much on how much paper you use and throw away. For residential users, a single shredding sack can last upwards of a month, especially for those who have a lot of their paperwork available online now. But for a business one sack often doesn’t last that long. If you have a shredding sack next to your desk, or by your office waste bin, you will find yourself throwing all sorts of miscellaneous paperwork in there because it is easy, convenient and secure. Not to mention it will be recycled instead of sent to landfill. If there are a lot of people in your business, a single sack sometimes won’t even last a day! So gauge the size of your business and maybe even do a test – ask everyone to put all the paperwork they would normally throw away on a particular day onto one desk or in a specified box instead, and see just how much you are accruing in a day. This gives you a good benchmark for how many sacks you will need for the office, and how regularly you will need to order new ones. Remember, each sack holds 10Kg (or 22lb) of paper, which is equal to around 600 sheets.

For more information on our shredding services, or our jumbo paper sacks, just get in touch with one of the team today or visit our website to order yours today.

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Is The Paper Receipt Becoming A Thing Of The Past?

No matter how ‘paperless’ we try to go, the world will still keep trying to throw paper into our lives. Case in point – every time you go shopping you will be given a printed paper receipt, varying in length depending on how much you’ve bought. Our wallets are purses are often bursting with reams of paper, many of which end up going through the shredder without a second glance. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a way to record our purchases without such a waste of paper?

What’s The Real Cost Of The Humble Receipt?

In the UK, over 11 billion receipts are printed every single year. Creating this number of receipts uses over 250 million gallons of oil, 10 million trees and 1 billion gallons of water each year. It’s a completely unsustainable model for something that largely goes unwanted or unused. For many people receipts are a sure fire way to bloat your wallet, being cleared out and shredded in a monthly (or yearly for some) purge without even being looked at. Very few people need receipts for everything they purchase, instead preferring to only keep receipts relating to major purchases – and even then only until the warranty has run out. But despite this, receipts have remained a staple for all retailers – an expected result of spending money. Even if a retailer asks you ‘do you want the receipt?’ as many do nowadays – that receipt still prints even if you say no. They just throw it away instead of giving it to you. So in a bid to revolutionise the buying process and protect our environment, there have been some really interesting trials taking place.

Testing The Waters

receipt2As we speak, retail giant Tesco are trialling a system where an e-receipt is sent to customers, instead of being printed out at the till point. This allows the customer to keep a digital log of the purchase and eliminates the need for paper receipts. Tesco are not the first to trial this new system, which has retailers send a digital receipt to a customer’s email address or a specifically designed mobile phone app called ‘Tap And Tag’. This app can be linked with contactless cards, so that when the card is used the receipt is sent directly to the app without prompting. The system could also be modified to work with loyalty cards for individual stores, which have this information filed already. There is also an option for a ‘short receipt’ for those who need it, which is a tenth of the size of a standard receipt.

Apple stores were the trailblazer for this system, which they began using in 2005. Debenhams and TopShop followed suit in 2015, while still keeping the option for a paper receipt to be printed. Retailers suggest that the system allows customers to keep all of their receipts in one place, making shopping easier and more convenient. They also mention that the data cannot be used for marketing or other purposes, as all data is stored anonymously. By using the ‘Tap and Tag’ or other digital receipt systems, retailers have found that time is saved at the till, waste and paper consumption is reduced and customers enjoy a more relaxed shopping experience.

But is this the end of the paper receipt? According to many experts, not quite. People still enjoy seeing the money they have saved and the ability to check that they haven’t been overcharged for anything in the store. Many businesses still require paper receipts for expenses, so paper receipts will still be needed by many. At Hungry Shredder we understand the issues around paper consumption, which is why we do our best to reduce the impact you (and we) have on the environment. Our secure shredding service not only helps you run an efficient, eco-friendly office, but all paper and materials shredded by us are recycled and turned into new materials, saving trees and other natural resources.  For more information or to find out about our eco-friendly shredding solutions, get in touch today.

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Understanding Business Identity Theft

Think that identity theft only hits individuals or the elderly? Think again. Thieves and criminals are targeting small and medium sized businesses all across the UK and the USA for quick and easy profit, with devastating consequences. In an age where digital information is freely available it’s a serious risk, so you need to know the facts before your business becomes the next victim of corporate identity theft.

What Is Corporate Identity Theft?

Identity crimes have evolved far beyond a crime of opportunity by petty thieves and drug users – it’s now a preferred criminal activity turned big business with more profit rolling in every year. Criminals ranging from street gangs to drug cartel to organised crime syndicates have actively embraced identity theft and cybercrime as key money making enterprises with low risk. Through this, thieves have learnt that business identities can also be stolen, and unsuspecting businesses can be very easy targets. But before we explain how corporate identity theft works, we need to explain exactly what it is. You see, just because a business has suffered a data breach doesn’t mean that their identity has been stolen. Data breach doesn’t automatically mean identity theft. Instead, like it’s consumer counterpart, corporate identity theft involves actual impersonation of the business itself. In fact, the term ‘corporate identity theft’ is misleading in itself, as corporations aren’t the only business entities victimised by this crime. Any type of business or organisation of any size or legal structure, from sole proprietorships, to partnerships and limited companies, government bodies, schools, trusts and non-profits can all be targeted by identity thieves.

Why Businesses Are Good Targets

When it comes to identity theft, criminals are faced with 2 avenues – individual or corporate. For most, the individual route is left to small time thieves, while the more professional, ambitious breed will go after corporates, non-profits and businesses.  But to understand why businesses make good targets for identity theft, you need to look at the gains and profits from the criminals point of view. For example, businesses tend to have:

Bigger Bank Accounts 

Business customers routinely maintain much larger bank account balances than your average consumer, and for good reason. Cash flow is a huge issue for all businesses, so the smart business owner will build up a buffer of cash in reserve. The average small business account may have between £5000 and £10,000 in it at any one time, with larger businesses sometimes keeping tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds in their accounts. When you compare this to the average consumer account of around £200-£500, it’s not hard to see why businesses make an attractive target. 

Flexible Payment Terms 

Because of their larger purchases, many businesses enjoy flexible payment terms or credit, allowing them to order and obtain goods or services before paying for them at a later date. For a criminal, this means they can make large purchases without paying a thing and disappear before the payment is due. They can also avoid the risk of early detection that comes with using a stolen credit card of cheque when the order is placed. 

Minimal Security

Small businesses are especially vulnerable, as many don’t have the most robust security in place. If they don’t have their own IT department, or they are overrun with tasks, keeping up the security needed can be challenging, and that’s what criminals are counting on. Targeted attacks exploit holes in the software smaller businesses use, while intercepting or stealing information in letters can give them all the information they need to start imitating your business.

Easily Available Information

The scary thing is, business identity thieves don’t even need to steal much of the information they need to impersonate a business, because so much of it is freely available now. Just go to Companies House and see how much information is freely available about your business thanks to the information age. All a criminal has to do is steal a few pieces of specific, targeted information and they’re away.

 

One of the ways corporate identity thieves get those last pieces of information is by accessing documents that have been thrown away or improperly stored. Bank details, for example, that have been put in the wrong place present an enormous risk, which is why it’s so important to stay on top of your secure document disposal. If you need help handing your shredding get in touch with us today for a free consultation.

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Taking Shredding Digital – Shredding Hard Drives

We talk a lot about shredding confidential documents and other paperwork, but do you ever think about the other things in your life that contain sensitive information? In the modern age we tend to keep a lot of information on our phones and computers, but give little thought to what data stays on the device after a ‘system reset’. Amazingly, it’s much more data than you would think. That’s why you should always remove your hard drive before you sell your old computer or laptop.

Why Shred Your Old Hard Drives?

Shredding a hard drive is the only way to ensure that the data on it can never be retrieved (short of investing in a very large magnet). Many people think that if you format your hard drive, you are erasing the data from it. This isn’t the case – as this only clears the re-writable areas. There are still many areas of your hard drive that formatting doesn’t cover. To illustrate this, a group of students from MIT bought 258 used, formatted hard drives on eBay. Using some basic, freely available forensic software they were able to recover over 5000 credit and debit card numbers, medical records, social security numbers and other highly sensitive information. Running a magnet over your hard drive won’t wipe it clean either, as you would need a magnet with a pull force of at least 450 pounds to have any effect. But with a pull force like that you would only be successful because you’d have destroyed everything else in the room as well.

How Does It Work?

hard drive shreddingUnfortunately, hard drives won’t go through your average office shredder! Instead you need professional grade equipment to destroy your hard drive completely. But unless you are a big office that goes through computers really quickly, you probably won’t have lots of hard drives building up just waiting to be destroyed. So instead, you will need to order a one off hard drive destruction service from your local, friendly shredding company. It’s not an expensive service, and often the shredding service will offer collection of free postage for you. Once the hard drive has been collected, it will be taken away to a secure shredding facility and destroyed. Our robust metal shredders are specifically designed to tackle tough electronics, so the actual shredding process will look something like this. Once it has been destroyed and the data rendered irretrievable, you will be sent a certificate of destruction and video evidence of destruction if you requested it. The remains of the hard drive can then be picked apart and recycled into new metals and computer parts.

If you’ve been stockpiling old computers and laptops instead of getting rid of them, hard drive shredding provides the perfect solution for you. Shredding your hard drive protects your business against digital data theft in the most realistic way possible – by completely destroying the data. Computers and laptops without hard drives can still be sold on to recoup costs or make a profit, but with the knowledge that your data is safe. If you’re not sure how to remove the hard drive from your computer, check out our guide here. If you need someone to dispose of your old hard drives, or just want to find out more about our shredding solutions, get in touch with one of our team today.

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Click And Collect – Shredding Made Easy

We talk a lot about shredding on this blog, and this post is no exception! But today we wanted to introduce you to our newest service. We’re very excited about this addition to our line, as it has been in high demand for quite some time. Now, as well as offering a drop off service for your document shredding, we can also offer a courier collection service, so you don’t even need to leave your house or office to make sure your documents are being shredded safely.

What Is Courier Collection Shredding?

Secure and confidential disposal of paperwork isn’t always easy for small businesses, and it’s not much better for the average home owner either. Small businesses usually have confidential documents they are legally required to dispose of safely, while security conscious home shredders are left with a pile of shredded paper and nothing to do with it! Dealing with this can become pretty expensive if you need to dispose of it yourself, and many companies will only offer large disposal bins, which could take months to fill.

Our new courier service is the ‘Click And Collect’ of shredding services – except it’s us doing the collecting! Instead of having to wait for a shredding truck to visit you or taking your paper to shred yourself, you can simply order a tough, reasonably sized collections sack (or 2, or more!) and fill it up. From there simply contact our office and arrange your collection time. A dedicated UPS driver will then arrive at your home or business premises to take away your waste for shredding and disposal. We will provide you with a Certificate of Destruction as standard as legal proof that your documents have been destroyed, and we can even provide video proof of destruction for a small added fee.

Why Should I Try Courier Collection?

With many shredding services you don’t get too many options – you can either have a large shredding truck visit your premises, or you can take all of your shredding to the centre yourself.  Depending on where you are, it might not be practical to have a huge vehicle come to your premises or home. You might be on a residential road or crammed into a narrow roadway, or simply not want to disturb your neighbours. Similarly, you may not be able to take your shredding to a centre yourself. If you are a residential customer you may not be able to drive, not have time or have too much waste to fit in your car. If you are a business customer, time is money and you may end up sacrificing a member of staff for a full day to do several runs to and from a centre that might not be that close to you.

If you’re interested and would like to try out our courier collection service, we would love to help you out. We are currently offering 25% off orders for our new service, so you can try it out at a reduced price, but this is for a limited time only! Just visit the product page, select the package you would like and you’re done. If you take advantage of our introductory offer we’ll even walk you through the process and book your collections ourselves, so you can just sit back and relax. So what are you waiting for? Try out the easiest way to destroy your confidential information safely.

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Why Shred At All?

With modern life demanding so much of us, little things we should be doing often slip through the net. This could be something as simple as forgetting to do the washing up at night, or it could be something more important, like shredding our junk mail or old paperwork from the office. In fact, there are still people out there who believe that they don’t need to shred anything at all, or that they can achieve the same level of security with a pair of scissors and a black bin bag (spoiler, you can’t). But there are a few reasons why you should make shredding part of your daily routine in the office.

It’s The Law

The first and most important reason to remember to do your shredding – it’s a legal requirement. We don’t even need to talk benefits at this stage, it’s simply something you have to do. The Data Protection Act states that every business has a legal obligation to protect the confidential information of its customers and employees. As a sub clause of this act, organisations must routinely employ a data destruction service to destroy redundant confidential information, whatever format it is held in. As if that wasn’t enough, the Information Commissioner’s Office now has the power to fine your business up to £500,000 if you lose someone’s confidential information.

Time And Money 

If you’ve decided that it’s time to your monthly shred, your next step is actually doing it. This is where a lot of businesses fall down, and where our confidential document destruction services come in handy. To illustrate, let’s look at your options:

  • Give one of your employees the job of putting down their normal work and have them remove staples and paperclips from your shredding pile, sort card from paper and finally spend hours stood over the office shredder to get rid of it.
  • Make a phone call to your certified confidential shredder, who will shred all of your documents in a matter of minutes using industrial machinery.

Be honest, you picked number 2 didn’t you? That’s because it makes no sense for you to spend time and money shredding materials instead of just making a phone call. For every 8 hours your poor employee spends shredding, our industrial machines can tackle the same volume of paper in just minutes, with no need to prepare the paper by removing staples or sorting. So instead have your staff doing the job you pay them for, and leave the shredding to the professionals.

Doing Your Bit For The Planet

Of course, we couldn’t give you reasons for shredding without mentioning the environment. If you went with option 1 earlier, what does your employee do with that paper when they’re finished? Many businesses would simply throw it away with the normal rubbish. But by using a certified shredder, we can protect your business and the environment at the same time. We recycle 99% of the paper we shred, promoting reuse and cutting down the need for new products to be made. For every tonne of paper, we recycle, 7000 gallons of water is saved, between 17 and 31 trees aren’t cut down, 4000 KWh of electricity is saved and 60 pounds of airborne pollutants are prevented from being released. How’s that for saving the environment?

It’s Common Sense!

No matter what type of business you run, you will be storing confidential data of some sort. Even everyday activates like creating invoices, providing your service to confidential clients or just writing up some meeting notes can generate a huge amount of data that needs to be protected. Just think about how disastrous it would be if one of your competitors got hold of your customer lists or quotes. Or worse, if a criminal found your financial records or employee data. All it takes is one smart criminal or one disgruntled employee and your business is at risk. But if you are routinely shredding sensitive documents, you are reducing the risk of this type of loss occurring.

So if you weren’t shredding your documents before, hopefully you will be now! Not only for the legal reasons, but also because of the hidden benefits to your business that shredding can unlock. For more information about our shredding service or to book your shredding slot, get in touch today.

 

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A Guide To Going Paperless (Almost)

A long time ago, in a land not too far away, a business owner dreamed of a paperless paradise. As he surveyed his domain – a small business with 10 employees all working hard to keep everything working, he sighed. With so many stacks of paper, filing and memos being passed around, how could his dream of a clean, eco-friendly and secure office possibly come true? Well, that business owner hadn’t read our guide to going (almost) paperless. He did have one thing right though – it is pretty much impossible for a business to completely eliminate paper, but it is possible to reduce it to almost nothing with a few easy steps.

Invest In Digital Document Management

All across the country there are hundreds of thousands of filing cabinets, all sitting full of paperwork waiting to be found. Some of them will be rifled through regularly to find the relevant documents, while others will be left to gather dust in the corner of the office. The average floor space taken up by 1 filing cabinet is 7.1 square foot, so a business paying £55 per square foot in rent would need to spend £390 a month just to keep that filing cabinet. That’s the cost of physical document management. Digital document management removes not only the cost of keeping physical documents, but the frustration of having to flick through hundreds of documents just to find the one you want. Instead, it stores digital copies of every document in an online central repository, where they can be accessed at any time with the click of a button. You can set up tags for each document to file them by category, file type, client, any system you want. These systems are simple to use and manage while completely eliminating the need for physical document storage.

 

Convert Paper Documents

The decision you now face is whether to use your document management system going forward, or whether to apply it retroactively to all of your existing paperwork. We strongly recommend doing the latter, as this will allow you to have everything in one place as opposed to split between filing cabinets and servers. It also means you can get rid of the filing cabinet and encourage employees to stop generating paper. If you choose to move your current paper documents into a document management system, you will need to convert them to digital format. This will take some time in front of a scanner, but does provide a good opportunity to examine what documentation you need to keep and what can be discarded. Once you have scanned the documents, the system can then extract the relevant information and store them for you, making it a much simpler process.

 

Dispose Of Paperwork Securely

Once all of your documents have been scanned and categorised, you will be left with a rather large pile of unnecessary paperwork.  Some of this will contain sensitive or confidential information about employees, clients or suppliers, so it’s important it’s disposed of correctly. Rather than sending someone to sit hunched over the shredder for hours, hire an external shredding company to collect the paperwork and dispose of it securely.  By using our services, you are saving yourself a lot of time and money while ensuring you stay compliant with the laws on data protection. One of our state of the art shredding vehicles can come directly to your office so you can witness your documentation being destroyed without leaving your premises. You will be presented with a certificate of destruction to prove your adherence to legislation, and your shredded paper will be taken away for recycling into new paper products – so it’s environmentally friendly as well!

 

Implement A Clean Desk Policy 

Now that you have a paper-free office, you need to work on keeping it that way. Remaining paperless for a few days is relatively easy, but keeping up with a paperless office long term can be a difficult task. Clean desk policies are a great way of ensuring that no unnecessary paperwork is created. Clean desk policies include guidelines on paper use, specifically that no paperwork should be left on desks, no documents should be printed unless absolutely necessary and any paperwork should be destroyed or placed within a secure shredding cabinet as soon as it has been used. Thanks to advances in digital signature software and other programmes, there is now very little need for any document to be printed off in the average office. Any documents that are printed in house or delivered in paper format can be used, scanned into the system and then placed into a secure shredding console to await a routine shredding visit for maximum security.

 

Encourage Use Of Digital Collaboration Tools 

In your journey from document overload into a paperless paradise, it’s important to not just swap a physical mess for a digital one. Management of your digital archives is important, so make sure you brief everyone within your business on the system, how it works and what you expect them to use it for. Encourage the use of digital tools like Evernote, Trello and Wrike for to-do lists, collaboration on projects and storage of miscellaneous documentation, rather than using post-it notes or notebooks. Instead of printing documents to work on as a group, suggest collaboration tools such as Google or Office 365 to allow multiple people to work on one document at once.

Depending on what type of business you run, you may not be able to avoid paper coming into your office, or being generated there. But what you can do is ensure that no paperwork is kept longer than necessary and that everything is shredded once it has been digitised, saving you space and money. For more information on how we can help you go and stay paperless, or to book your own paperwork in to be shredded, get in touch with us today.

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Is Your Data Protected?

For any business, data protection is an important thing to think about. Even if you only deal with a small amount of confidential data, you must have suitable and robust policies in place for protecting that data and the data of your employees and business. Small businesses are now becoming a more popular target for data thieves, and even a small breach could cost your business dearly – not just in money but also in security, reputation, and even criminal charges. So do you know the basic do’s and don’ts of good data protection?

Do: 

Know The Risks 

One key things to remember is that not all businesses are the same, so each one will face its own set of risks to confidential data. Perform an audit to determine what the weak points are in your business, and how the data protection laws affect your policies. You may find you need to put in more digital security, or invest in on-site security for physical paperwork. You may need to implement document handling procedures to ensure no confidential data is put at risk.

Educate Your Employees 

Even with data theft from businesses at an all-time high, the majority of data breaches within businesses are still the result of basic human error or misunderstanding. When you first hire new employees, make sure they are educated in data protection and trained in how to keep confidential data secure. Hold periodic retraining for existing employees to go over new rules and remind them to be diligent. Ensure that all employees are aware of the consequences of breaching data protection laws and know how to stay compliant.

Appoint A Responsible Officer

Once you have created the policies and put them in place, you will need to appoint a member of staff to take responsibility for ensuring the policies are followed. Make sure this person is capable and trusted, and inform all staff that they are in charge of this particular area. Your responsible officer should be in charge of ensuring confidential data is protected and handled correctly at every stage of its life, from creation to destruction.

Encrypt Digital Data 

Digital data security should be one of your top priorities for data protection. To keep your files safe, you should not only have a secure system and workflow in place, but all digital files stored externally or on cloud servers should be encrypted for extra security. Without the encryption in place anyone who intercepts the data would be able to read, duplicate or edit it, compromising business and client security.

Shred Documents 

While digital security is a top priority, you should not forget about physical security. Once a document has served its purpose within your business it is important that is destroyed properly and securely. Employing a professional service like Hungry Shredder will ensure your documents are destroyed safely, and you will be provided with a certificate of destruction to prove your compliance.

Don’t: 

 

Leave Documents Unattended

Never leave a document containing sensitive information sitting around on your desk unattended, even if you’re just popping to the toilet or making a round of coffee. All workplace computer terminals should be password protected and locked when employees aren’t at their desks, to ensure no one can access the system unauthorised. Once it’s been used, all paperwork, emails, and printouts should be stored in a locked container to await shredding.

Use Information For Anything But It’s Intended Purpose

The Data Protection Act not only covers how documents should be handled but how the information within them should be used. It specifically states that information collected should not be used for anything other than its stated purpose, so using confidential information for anything else could not only compromise your business, but leave you on the wrong side of the law.

Ignore Security Patching 

Many people will choose to ignore security patches or updates on their computer for fear that the updates will be full of bugs or change features they enjoy. But patches are more than just annoying popup boxes – they fix holes or weak points in the software, making it safer. Security patches will help protect your machine against infection from malware and shore up loopholes or issues that have been discovered – including serious breach points that hackers have discovered.

Forget About Remote Workers

Remote and flexible working is becoming a more popular option for workers in the UK, but it comes with its own set of risks. You cannot guarantee that remote workers are using a secure internet connection, or that they are using the right programmes and technologies to keep your business data safe. You can never know where a stray bit of paper will be left, or who will be coming into their home or office unsupervised. There is no way to eradicate this doubt, but it is something you should bear in mind when creating your remote working policies so that you can take steps to mitigate risk.

For more data protection tips, or to find out how a using a professional shredding service can help you stay compliant, get in touch with one of our experts for a free consultation and advice.

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Clean Desks Make Happier Offices

We all remember how well we reacted to being told to clean our rooms when we were young. When clean desk policies first came into fashion, many people felt a lot like they had been reduced to 7 year olds arguing with their parents again, but despite the initial resistance, clean desk polices are now becoming the norm. A clean desk policy is better known as a corporate directive that specifies how employees should leave their working space when they leave the office, with most businesses requiring all employees to clear their desks of paperwork at the end of each day. This doesn’t just cover paper, but post-it notes, business cards, rubbish and removable media like USB sticks. This isn’t just being done because your boss is a neat freak. Many businesses follow these policies in order to increase security and reduce the risk of confidential data loss or theft, but they often fail to realise the hidden benefit of clean desks – a boost in employee morale, mood and productivity.

Productivity

Keeping your desk clean and clear is key to being able to get your work done. While there are some arguments that messy desks force people to think more creatively about solving problems, this does not translate into productivity for every day work. Despite the excuses some might give, different piles are not organisation, and often they could not find a specific document quickly if you asked them. That’s because in reality you are never going to work at your best when you have to search through piles of things to find that one document due in the next hour. In order to foster productivity your workspace should work for you, not hinder you. Think of your desk as a car – everything you need most immediately (steering wheel, gearstick, indicators, pedals) should be within arm’s length, and the rest hidden away for when you might need it. For most people these essential items are their computer, mouse and keyboard, telephone, notepad and calendar. Everything else should have a home elsewhere – for example in a filing drawer under your desk or organised into a box or folder. This leaves the desk space clear and gives you room to work and to think creatively. Your performance coincides directly with your workspace – when it’s organised and precise you have the mind set and motivation to work efficiently.

 

Teamwork

The state of your dedicated workspace is a lot like your physical appearance – it says a lot about you. For example did you know that out of 1000 office based workers, 57% admit to judging their co-workers by how clean or dirty their workspace is? Nearly half of that same group said they had been ‘appalled’ by how messy a colleague’s office and desk was, and chalked the reason up to bad habits, negative attitude towards work or pure laziness. With so many open plan and flexible offices today, more people can see into your workspace, and despite their best efforts, they will judge you on it. This can be worse when there is a visitor to your office, as it gives a negative impression of your company as well as you individually. Employees with messy, dirty desks tend to find themselves getting isolated from the rest of their team and experiencing friction in the office, seemingly because of nothing. But the truth is it’s the desk. Implementing a clean desk policy for all employees (where ‘clean’ means clear of papers and clean of dirt) will help office workers bond without these subconscious judgements invading working relationships.

Morale

People do their best work when they feel happy, comfortable and safe. The problem is that when an office cuts corners with cleaning and organisation to say, reduce costs or foster a relaxed, creative environment, it can often have negative effects on employee morale. A survey done into the effects of office cleanliness and tidiness on morale revealed that in offices where staff were allowed messy desks and corners were cut on cleaning:

  • 72% said their surroundings made them less productive
  • 46% said they took longer lunch breaks and spent less time in the office
  • 25% said they took sick leave because the surroundings depressed them

The simple fact that the work environment was not cared for by their peers or their management severely impacted the enjoyment these employees took in their work and instead had a negative impact on attendance, productivity and morale. However, in offices that were well maintained and a clean desk policy was in effect for employees:

  • 65% said they looked forward to coming into a clean office in the morning
  • 49% thought they worked harder as a result of a better organised office
  • 26% said they took shorter breaks or spent lunch breaks at their desk

In the grand scheme of things, ensuring your desk is clean, tidy and free of paperwork at the end of each day is a small price to pay for the benefits it gives. In our next post we will tell you how to implement a clean desk policy in your office, including how to ditch the paperwork safely and make sure everyone gets on board. In the meantime for more information about disposing of those old documents, get in touch.

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Secure Shredding – Sorted!

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Have you noticed how many data security breaches are making the headlines these days? More and more businesses are discovering that not only is their digital data at risk, but digital crimes are being traced back to physical documentation. To combat this, a growing number of businesses are looking into ways they can improve their document security policies. The problem is that many businesses fall into 1 of 2 categories when it comes to document destruction. They either wrote the policy when they first started up and haven’t looked at it since, or they don’t have one at all. With the amount of data businesses handle every day still increasing, it’s no longer acceptable to just go along without paying attention to your secure document handling obligations.

Getting A Handle On Your Document Handling Policies

From sensitive candidate information being left on an open desk, important files being left on trains and confidential documents being thrown in recycling bins, every company has their horror stories about when important, sensitive information goes missing. Sometimes this is down to employee absent mindedness or sloppy work (which sometimes isn’t avoidable) but in some cases it’s actually the policies and procedures that are at fault. Employee are trained to follow the rules and regulations of the workplace, so it is your job to make sure those rules are clear. If your policy says paper gets recycled (and nothing else), then of course your employees are going to put everything in there. Take some time to go through your policies and specifically address how employees should destroy confidential documents. Define what constitutes as sensitive information within your policies, how it should be handled and the consequences should it be misused. This is a good time to revaluate your procedures and decide whether you want to implement an in-house shredding policy or bring in an outsourced company to ease the burden on your team.

In House Shredding Options

For smaller businesses of one man bands it is incredibly tempting to just buy a basic shredder from the supermarket, stick it in the corner of the office and say that is your document destruction solution. After all, it only costs you around £30 to buy a shredder now, so why shouldn’t you? Well the first downside is that your average small ‘home grade’ shredder is only strip cut, which is the least secure form of shredding there is. They also suffer from ‘you get what you pay for’ syndrome. These little shredders are great for someone shredding post and bank statements, but they aren’t really built to cope with big quantities of paper, so will likely give up the ghost fairly quickly. They also can’t handle materials tougher than paper, like staples or paperclips, making it a chore for you to go through removing them before shredding. The same goes for shredding hard drives – an essential for any office upgrading its machinery. But even if you do invest in a more expensive, robust model, you still have to spend a lot of time and energy actually shredding things. Plus, just shredding your documents doesn’t make your business legally compliant with data protection laws, you’ve got to dispose of it properly too.

How Does Outsourced Shredding Work? 

Outsourced shredding has been a saviour to millions of small, medium and large businesses when it comes to disposing of their documentation. It doesn’t cost a lot as there are no monthly fees – instead you just pay for what you shred. You are given bags or secure cabinets to fill with your documents ready for shredding, so all your employees have to do is put them in the right containers instead of shredding them themselves. At a time agreed by you they will either be collected and taken away, or a shredding truck will roll up to shred them in front of you, so you know they are actually being destroyed. These industrial strength shredding machines are much finer and stronger than your average home shredder, and can cut anything you throw in to small, confetti like pieces. You will be given a certificate of destruction which confirms you have been legally compliant with your document destruction, and the shredded materials are mixed with hundreds of other peoples before being taken away and disposed of properly. Outsourced shredded services like ours have been specially developed to be easy for businesses to use and take the hassle out of document destruction.

Document destruction and data protection are issues that every business faces, but that doesn’t mean they have to be difficult. Complying with the Data Protection Act is actually quite simple, all it takes is some common sense and a little knowledge. At Hungry Shredder we understand how to help your business not only understand the law, but how to stay on the right side of it as well. For more information or to book a consultation, get in touch today.