While the overall numbers on snail mail sent in the U.S. have slowly declined in recent years, businesses still receive a hefty volume of letters every day. The task of managing snail mail may seem inconsequential in the broader picture of your business’ operations. However, how you manage office mail can impact the productivity and engagement of your employees and can even become a reflection of your company image to clients and consumers.
Having the right systems in place to triage mail intake, distribution, storage and disposal will keep your workspace organized, protect important documentation and show your consumers that you are committed to sustainable business practices (recycling/paperless).
Clutter impacts everyone in the office. Research from Reliable Plant shows that office employees spend 4.3 hours on average each week searching for missing paperwork. Inc contributor and Independent Business Consultant, Larry Alton, adds that executives spend an hour each week looking for missing information.
By prioritizing organization and process clarity, you can transfer these lost hours into thousands of dollars in improved productivity, while maintaining a cleaner, more hygienic and orderly workplace for your team.
Here are 8 tips to help you manage your office snail mail efficiently:
1. Establish an Initial Triage Station
The best way to ensure that snail mail doesn’t create clutter and disorder in your office is to set up an initial intake area. In most organizations, this will be the front desk. Make sure this initial station is completed with one or multiple mail sorters, paper trays and organizers to implement order and clarity in your office mail management from the start. It’s also important for this desk to be clear of any other clutter to create space to properly prioritize mail sorting and distribution.
Inform your front-office staff or any other employee that could receive mail, of the proper intake protocol so that the process is managed correctly at all times. Having multiple employees that understand this process will keep mail intake in order when an employee calls in sick or is busy performing a task away from the front desk.
2. Schedule Time to Manage Intake and Distribution
Having a well-curated and organized triage station in your workplace is just the start of properly managing office mail and deliveries. The employee(s) in charge of distributing mail should be very familiar with company processes and personnel to ensure distribution is efficient and accurate. Once you have the right team member selected to champion your office’s snail mail, establish a system that organically works with his or her daily routine.
Encourage this employee to set aside a few times each day to keep up with mail intake, and another set of times to manage distribution. The more consistency that can be built into this process, the better. Consistency allows employees to anticipate mail at a specific time so that they can free up their headspace to focus on their tasks. Employees will also give the proper attention to the mail they receive to prevent clutter from piling up.
3. Protecting Personal Information
One misplaced piece of mail is all it takes to create a compliance issue for your organization. Businesses receive important documentation constantly. Whether it’s invoices, tax documents, bills, or personal mail, having an organized and consistent mail distribution process will keep these important papers secure until they reach their intended recipient.
Paper shredders are also pivotal to protect private information. Your competitors likely aren’t diving into your dumpsters to gain insights on your operations and analytics, but you can never be too certain when it comes to the health and security of your business. Identity theft occurs every 2 seconds in the U.S. and businesses are certainly not exempt from being targeted. You can take further precautions for your business mail by placing a lock on your mailbox or using a P.O. box.
4. Placing Recycling Bins at Every Desk
Office workers generate 2 pounds of paper waste every day. For larger corporations, this could amount to literally tons of waste each year. For brands that identify as “eco” or “green”, this amount of waste could tarnish your reputation among job applicants, employees, partners, and customers.
Make recycling bins just as accessible as waste bins in your office to emphasize the importance of recycling in your workplace. Recycling paperwork requires no extra effort from your employees, but is the responsible way to manage snail mail and internal documents.
5. Go Paperless Where You Can
With the digital tools and systems available to businesses of all sizes and budgets (especially cloud technology), storing files, documents, and procedures digitally has never been easier. It’s also more cost-effective. According to eFileCabinet, U.S. companies spend $460 billion annually on salaries to triage the overload of processing paper-first information.
Digital file storage allows you to house SOPs, client/customer data, reports, deliverables, records, etc. under one singular hub (that doesn’t occupy any floor space in your office). You can further organize this information into silos and restrict certain access to ensure proper security and confidentiality. The result should be streamlined storage of important company documents and real-time information sharing between employees, clients, and vendors. In the modern business world where remote work, gig employment, and international business are more prevalent than ever before, this transition will be preferred, if not expected.
If compliance is a concern, housing physical files in your office is still achievable while prioritizing internal and external paperless billing and information sharing. Adapt your processes to encourage existing partners, vendors, and clients to communicate digitally and have individual employees print off any important files that you’re required to store physically. This reduces extra involvement from other team members and cuts down your company’s paper waste.
6. Produce Tidiness Policies to Prevent Clutter
While it’s respectful to give employees space and control over their work area, lax tidiness policies can become problematic if it starts to affect other employees’ productivity.
Clutter, even if it’s not in your personal workspace, can be distracting. It can also impact an employee’s reliability. By establishing clear and fair expectations for desk tidiness, it reduces the time your employees spend searching for documents or the likelihood of an employee losing critical business information.
Speak with your team to come up with a policy that everyone can agree with. The ideal practice for your office may be a rewards system, a celebration for the tidiest employee of the month, or perhaps just setting aside 30 minutes within the workday each Friday is all your team needs to keep your office fresh and neat.
7. Outfit Your Office with Organizers
It’s one thing to have a neatly organized front desk to receive business mail, but what about once it’s distributed throughout the office? Around 25% of employees elect to store paperwork in piles on their desks instead of files. If these documents are useful, then they’re that much harder to find when it comes time to reference or address them. If they aren’t useful, then placing them in a pile to be dealt with later is just adding an extra step to the process. Managing snail mail the right way should reduce office clutter and free up time and headspace for more valuable tasks.
If every desk in your office has its own organizer for incoming mail, then your employees will be far less likely to lose important documents or allow unsightly stacks of paper to pile up. Follow this up with an organized filing system for relevant incoming mail and maintaining a tidy workspace will become second-nature to your team.
Allowing employees to purchase their own organizers will give them the control of selecting something that suits their personalities and aesthetic preferences. If the employer makes this purchase, it’s not only seen as a nice gesture, but it allows the company to create cohesion in the overall design of the workplace.
8. Opt-Out and Optimize
Once you have the system in place to properly manage your snail mail, review the validity of the mail that your business receives. How much spam is sent to your office each week? Not only will triaging this mail waste employee time, but it’s also a waste of natural resources.
Encourage your team to make note of any mail that they get regularly on behalf of the business that isn’t useful. Whether it’s old vendors or hopeful partners, your business may end up on any number of mailing lists from senders that just aren’t the right fit. Simply overlooking these spam letters by tossing them into the trash, recycling or sending them through the shredder, places you in a cycle of receiving the same level of spam each month. Reach out to the regular senders that don’t match up with your business goals and request to be taken off of their mailing lists.
If credit cards are the issue, visit OptOutPrescreen.com to permanently or temporarily place a hold on snail mail credit card and insurance offers.
Implementing Better Snail Mail Management for Your Office
Implementing clear systems and practices equips your team to act with greater confidence throughout their workday. Snail mail management is no different. Use and retool these 8 mail management tactics to create a cleaner, more efficient, and stress-free work environment for you and your employees.
Looking for a way to manage your workplace more efficiently? Check out what Eden’s Workplace Management Platform can do for your office.