Order and Maintenance in the Digital Office

Maintaining a clean and orderly office environment is a basic step to improving productivity and efficiency.  Many companies go about this by ridding their office of paper hardcopies, organizers and filing cabinets as they transition to a digital office.  This is a great strategy for improving overall workplace efficiency, but it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear of office organization.  Although a digital office offers streamlined methods to accomplishing daily tasks without the need for piles of paper or mounds of supplies, maintenance is still necessary in these complex, electronic spaces.

Despite what you may believe, a disorganized and neglected computer, server, cloud platform, or electronic index is equally, if not more, damaging to the overall efficiency of a workplace. Just like it’s necessary to re-sort, re-file and edit physical copies in a cluttered, paper-filled office, these steps are required in electronic spaces as well—it’s just a bit different in terms of maintenance.  The following are some techniques and tips to organize an electronic office.

If paper copies are collecting dust on your desk, devise a method for converting and organizing them in the electronic space.  Don’t just move items from your desk to your computer, this is counterproductive.  Have a plan in place for converting hard copies as they are received.  Once digitized, deposit the data in the most appropriate digital location for the time being.  Make a note on the newly uploaded document to review in a week or so to determine if the location remains appropriate.

Many people struggle with maintaining a clean, organized inbox.  Take it a step further—don’t just aim for an empty inbox at the end of the day, but strive to organize and archive each email that’s worthy of saving.  If there is anticipated delay in responding to an email, or an item needs further review, move it to another calendar day so you’ll be reminded to come back to it.  Closing tasks, moving items to archive folders and assigning deadlines is essential to maintaining a clean, organized digital space.

It’s easy to get a bit trigger happy when cleaning out electronic repositories.  However, it’s important to follow company policies for deleting electronic data.  Know what information is subject to regularly scheduled system purges and what falls under specific retention guidelines.  This can even extend to electronic communications like email, voice and video calling.  Employees should be educated on company policies, and notified promptly when guidelines change.

Just because an office is paperless, doesn’t mean there isn’t maintenance to perform in the electronic space.  Workflow processes, communications software, retention guidelines, personal computers and electronic databases all make our jobs easier.  Keeping them clean and organized will result in a more productive, efficient and successful working environment.