Don’t leave millions on the table. (Or in a file cabinet.)
Clean up is the last thing many companies and business owners want to think about after a time-consuming and often stressful office relocation. When important documents get left behind, rushing this final step can cost your company millions.
The cost of abandoned confidential information
When confidential information is found in an abandoned office space, millions in related costs are not unheard of. Customer, client or patient information are the biggest offenders, making companies responsible for the cost of lawsuits, of providing free credit monitoring, and of PR fallout that can hurt their reputations.
Health records: frequently implicated
Ethical business practices and government HIPAA regulations demand confidential handling of patient information, which can include names, birthdates, social security numbers and billing information, not to mention private, intimate information about individual’s personal health histories. Despite the importance of keeping patient information confidential, patient records get left behind in abandoned medical offices far more often than they should. Hundreds of patient names dating back to 1995 were found in an abandoned Tennessee mental health facility. Seven years’ worth of patient dental records, including detailed medical histories, were found scattered in plain view in another facility; and in Chicago, four buildings’ worth of personnel records, surgical and psychiatric records, and data about volunteers, were found in mental health centers after they were closed.
In the medical field, these patient privacy blunders can result in hefty fines. The financial impact only grows for companies in the retail and banking sectors, where loss of customer credit and identity information can pave the way for countless tragic examples of ruined finances for individuals and damaging financial impact for companies and their employees.
How to keep information and records safe during an office relocation
Office relocation involves moving files and equipment containing social security numbers, banking information, health records and other sensitive information, not to mention technology relocation of hard drives and other data storage. Although most companies have good security standards during normal business operations, many forget to translate these into the needs of an office move. A few safe office relocation practices include:
- Making a detailed inventory and documented chain of custody during office or technology relocation
- Purging of documents from all desks, file cabinets and other furniture as mandatory steps in the moving process
- Searching unexpected areas like the space behind panel walls, loading dock areas or unsecured dumpsters
It’s a good idea to build cleanup into your office relocation plan. Don’t let it get left until after the last minute.
Vacated space services are one important aspect of an office relocation plan. Feel free to contact us for help on this and other steps in your upcoming office relocation.