Spring seems to be the natural time, after what are commonly dreary winter months, to revitalize and refresh your environment - why shouldn’t your business be included? Not only does it help your operations, a clean environment also has many direct benefits for your employees. Let’s review the effects of keeping your business, and its technology, in order.
Why You Want to Keep Your Technology Clean, Inside and Out
If your business is like most, you rely on technology to help manage things. While your particular operations may use different solutions than one in another industry will, your technology is an essential piece of your business. Therefore, you need to make sure that it can meet two criteria.
First, it needs to remain in proper working order, and secondly, it needs to be organized so that the resources you rely on it for are easy to access and utilize.
In order for these criteria to be met, your office technology needs some attention to both its physical components, and the information those components give you the ability to store, access, and edit. Furthermore, an unkempt technology strategy can have some detrimental effects to your overall productivity and even your general success as a business.
Benefits of Digital Office Organization
First, consider the state of your digital file storage. Is it organized properly, with documents and resources saved in the correct folders, with proper labelling and an intuitive, hierarchical system? If not, it will do you quite a bit of good to take the time and organize these files so that they can be found for reference more easily in the future.
This is because this organization will enable you and your employees to find the things you need more easily, which means you and your employees will therefore be able to find them more quickly. This creates time savings that, while apparently insignificant when considered individually, can add up to be fairly significant after all. Secondly, taking the time to establish a filing system will also give you the opportunity to audit your old materials as you organize them into it. Perhaps some of them are due to be revisited and updated, and others are outdated to the point where they can be archived away or deleted safely. Going through your materials and making this call can easily save you some headaches in the future, and help build beneficial habits for the future.
If part of your clutter problem is due to your reliance on physical files that are stored in bulky filing cabinets around the office, you might consider adopting a digital file storage solution and starting off with this hierarchical system in place. Not only does this make sense from a financial standpoint (fewer paper files means less paper and ink to buy), it is also environmentally responsible and allows you greater control over who in your organization has access to particular files.
Organizing Your Inbox
We’ve all learned the hard way how easy it is for a mess to pile up, and few places make that piling up more visible than your email inbox. While you know that there are certainly important messages mixed and buried in there, there’s also going to be plenty of conversations that you were privy to, but not really involved in, or situations that have long since been resolved and no longer require your attention.
However, while these messages may not currently seem important, there is always a chance that they will be at some point in the future. It is better to take messages like these and, similarly to your business data and files, create a filing system to organize them in a place where they won’t pile up and potentially bury pertinent emails.
Another strategy to consider: If your preferred email solution offers it, is to have messages that meet predetermined criteria automatically sent to a relevant folder. Perhaps emails with a certain word or phrase in the subject line are moved to one folder, while emails from a few particular contacts are sent to another. As a result, you know where you can find these emails later to refer back to them, and it helps keep your inbox from becoming too formidable.
Optimizing Your Desktop and Browser
There are plenty of ways that your computer’s desktop can become a clogged mess, and an equal amount of ways that the same can happen to your browser. Fortunately, the same strategy that applies to your filing system and your email can also apply to the stuff you have cluttering your desktop.
How much of it should actually be stored in the shared company resources? These documents should be the first to take care of, transferring them over to the appropriate file location. Once you’ve done that, you can create another folder hierarchy that cleans up your desktop and organizes the cluttered materials into a logical and navigable system that makes sense to you.
The same goes for the shortcuts and extensions that you have saved in your browser of choice. Try running an audit of your installed extensions and uninstall any that you don’t really use. The same goes for your bookmarks, which can themselves be arranged into a hierarchical system or removed.
Even your computer’s start-up process can be optimized, as we’ve discussed on our blog. Have IT help you audit the programs that your computer runs during start up and remove any that simply don’t matter, if appropriate.
Cleaning Your Computer
Of course, a big part of keeping your technology clean means maintaining your workstations and servers, removing dangerous dust buildup and making them generally look nice.
As you might imagine, it isn’t as though you can just turn on a vacuum and give your computer a once-over. In fact, this is exactly what you shouldn’t do. Your workstation, whether you’re working with a desktop or laptop, is filled with fragile components that can easily be damaged by the static build-up a vacuum produces. Instead, you should use simple tools that will allow you to gently cleanse the exterior as needed, such as a can of compressed air to remove dust from your keyboard. There are specialty wipes available for purchase that are made specifically for electronics that are effective for a quick wipe-down as well. As a precaution, make sure that your device is powered down during the cleaning process, and that it is only powered up when completely dry.
When cleaning your monitor, you should avoid using liquid as much as you can, electing instead to use a microfiber cloth to wipe the screen down very gently.
You may also want to request that IT occasionally crack open your device and do a bit of tidying up on the inside as well, removing the dust that will collect on the inside and trap in heat.
Few things look as overwhelming as cables that are left to just splay everywhere. Not only does this make it easier for dust and debris to collect around your crucial components, it simply looks awful, sloppy, and entirely unimpressive. Some basic cable management can quickly make a mass of cords and wires more discrete and more aesthetically pleasing, while also reducing a safety hazard in the office.
Tidying the Office
Of course, the phrase ‘spring cleaning’ is largely associated with giving your environment a good, refreshing clean, and less about tending to technology needs. This is also a very important activity, as it provides assorted benefits that will be discussed below.
So, in addition to seeing to your technology, go through the office and tidy up as you would any other place of business. Clean the floors, sanitize the bathrooms, and fix up the employee break room (including the fridge). This may also be a good opportunity to consider redecorating and giving your office a refreshed new look to match its newly cleaned state.
Why a Clean Office is Better
At the beginning of this article, it was referenced that there were assorted benefits to having a tidy and organized office. These benefits range from providing a better workplace for your employees to staying compliant with various regulations.
First, a clean workplace means that your employees are able to enjoy greater productivity than they would in one that is filled with clutter and chaos, and morale is higher in a clean workplace than in one that is dusty, grimy, and unattended. Stress has been shown to be reduced, and morale is markedly higher, as is an employee’s ability to focus on their tasks. Additionally, a clean workplace is one with fewer germs, which means that employees will have an easier time staying healthy and coming in to work.
Of course, there are also other people that you have to impress. Any clients or customers that visit your business will have what can be honestly considered a second chance at a first impression every time they visit. A disheveled and unorganized office can quickly put them in a negative mindset that only makes your job harder. Furthermore, there are laws and regulations that require workplaces to be maintained to a certain standard for the benefit of an employee’s health and safety.
Besides, wouldn’t you feel more motivated to spend your day in a nice, clean office, using equipment and solutions that work well, rather than one that’s looks and feels busy and cluttered and is filled with grimy workstations that only slow down your progress?
What You Can Do About It
Of course, once your office is cleaned, you will want to keep it that way. That’s why it is important to establish cleanliness and order as a part of your expectations of office culture, and encourage your employees to consider themselves accountable for their own area. Remind them that they represent the company just as much as the company represents them, and should always present and conduct themselves accordingly.
To help you get to that point, White Mountain IT Services is here to help as well. We can apply our expertise to make many of the activities described above much easier to accomplish, speeding up your spring cleaning and helping you get back to your improved operations that much quicker. Call 603-889-0800 for more information.