We all know we live and are working in unprecedented times.  Some of us may return to the office soon, some may continue to work from home for an extended period,while others may be informed that their position has been permanently transitioned to “work from home.” Recent news reports have stated that companies are re-thinking the workplace environment.  A May 1, article from Gallup states, “Greater remote work could become the “next normal”.”

Though advances in technology have increased the numbers of employees working from over the last decade, many employees may discover this is the new “norm.” During the COVID pandemic, many organizations have worked with their employees to ensure that they have the appropriate environment to work remotely, including hardware, software, guidance on cybersecurity, and mental health assistance.

The aforementioned assistance is definitely beneficial in helping employees transition and adjust to a remote work environment.  However, the purpose of this blog is to assist employees who have found themselves working remotely over the past several months, or who are informed that they will be working from home for an extended period of time, maybe permanently, how to develop and implement a practical, compliant, work-from-home records management system.

We all know we live and are working in unprecedented times.  Some of us may return to the office soon, some may continue to work from home for an extended period,while others may be informed that their position has been permanently transitioned to “work from home.” Recent news reports have stated that companies are re-thinking the workplace environment.  A May 1st article from Gallup states, “Greater remote work could become the “next normal”.”

Though advances in technology have increased the numbers of employees working from over the last decade, many employees may discover this is the new “norm.” During the COVID pandemic, many organizations have worked with their employees to ensure that they have the appropriate environment to work remotely, including hardware, software, guidance on cybersecurity, and mental health assistance.

The aforementioned assistance is definitely beneficial in helping employees transition and adjust to a remote work environment.  However, the purpose of this blog is to assist employees who have found themselves working remotely over the past several months, or who are informed that they will be working from home for an extended period of time, maybe permanently, how to develop and implement a practical, compliant, work-from-home records management system.

For employees working remotely whose organization’s have established electronic processes and whose records are received and generated in electronic format, the disruption may be minimal. Likely, you already have established network folders on your computer, access to company applications, and the ability to forward electronic information for processing. If this is the case, the employee should continue to follow and not deviate from established protocols.

However, if your organization is still reliant on physical (paper) documents for procedural purposes, the change can create challenges. Below are listed considerations for creating a work-from-home records management system that will allow you to effectively manage company records and information:

  • Mimic your workplace filing system
  • Do you have available space
  • Will your company provide filing cabinet

For employees working remotely whose organization’s have established electronic processes and whose records are received and generated in electronic format, the disruption may be minimal. Likely, you already have established network folders on your computer, access to company applications, and the ability to forward electronic information for processing. If this is the case, the employee should continue to follow and not deviate from established protocols.

However, if your organization is still reliant on physical (paper) documents for procedural purposes, the change can create challenges. Below are listed considerations for creating a work-from-home records management system that will allow you to effectively manage company records and information:

  • Mimic your workplace physical filing system: However, there are some things to consider, does your home office (workspace) have adequate room to store physical files, will your company provide, at no cost, a filing cabinet(s), folders, labeling supplies
  • Electrical outlets: This may sound elementary, but ensure you have enough electrical outlets/power strips for the needed hardware that you may not have a need for in the past such  as monitors, computers, and printers
  • Paper: As we know the paperless office for many did not exist when you were working from the office and will not exist when you work from home.  Will your company provide you the paper stock you need
  • How to provide physical documents to your company: In this case, has your company made provisions for providing the information electronically. Have they provided you with a multi-functional device that allows you to copy, print, scan, fax and transmit.  Will your company provide a stipend or reimburse you for your home Wi-Fi. Will you be required to send physical documents to the company office via established shipping providers or courier, will the company pay for shipping or will you be reimbursed for shipping costs
  • Company files:  Are you able to take home or retrieve needed files to your home office, what if other employees need access to the same files, does your company have restrictions on sensitive physical files residing at your home office, are you able to secure information at home
  • Offsite records storage vendors: It may be necessary to retrieve and have delivered files from the company’s offsite records storage vendor, does the vendor provide residential delivery/pickups, and has the company provided a mechanism for payment to the vendor for retrieval and pickups. Also will you need to be provided storage boxes/labels for sending records to the vendor
  • Secure disposition: As always the company’s records retention schedule must be followed.  Do you have the ability at home to shred records and information eligible for destruction, will your company provide you with a shredder
  • Stay in touch: Regardless if your company relies on electronic or physical information for processing, it is important to stay abreast of issues that may impact records and information such as legal and tax record and information holds. Ensure you are on the appropriate distribution lists regarding these matters

In conclusion, it is important if you have been assigned to work from home to continue to follow the records and information management practices and protocols that your company has established. This includes the storing, security and disposition of organizational records and information. As always, never hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

 

Sincerely

Blake E. Richardson, CRM