Keeping your office neat, tidy and well organized not only shows a certain level of professionalism, it will also help you be more productive throughout the day. Cramped spaces can make staying organized especially challenging, but with the right layout and storage tools, you can make the most out of any office space.
Perhaps nothing is more helpful when it comes to storage and organization than the classic file cabinet. While the office and work environment has gone through major transformations over the past decades, the file cabinet has remained a staple, and for good reason. Although a lot of information is now stored digitally and with cloud computing tools, there are still plenty of situations that require hard-copies of important documents. A file cabinet provides a simple and secure way to make sure that files are easily accessible.
If you are in the market for a file cabinet that will meet your storage needs, here are some features to look out for and other considerations to take into account before you buy:
Why Buy a Filing Cabinet?
It all comes down to secure and convenient storage that can be adapted to fit your existing office space. If your office has yet to go paperless or you work in a field where it is vital to have documents on hand, then the last thing you want to do is randomly stuff papers into your desk drawers. Not only will this create clutter, it will also make it impossible to quickly locate a file when you need it. The right file cabinet will:
Lateral: A lateral file cabinet features drawers that extend from the longest side of the cabinet. It provides a wider drawer that doesn’t offer the same depth as other models. This layout may be ideal for smaller spaces where there isn’t enough room to extend a longer drawer into the room. A lateral configuration also allows workers to sift through files from a seated position.
Vertical: Vertical models have drawers that extend from the short side of the cabinet. Typically, this means that the drawers offer greater depth. These cabinets are also usually taller than lateral models and will need adequate space to be fully extended and provide easy accessibility to files located throughout the length of the drawer.
Flat: Flat file cabinets are specially designed to accommodate larger documents that are usually laid flat for storage. This cabinets provides short, spacious drawers that can be used to lay canvases, blueprints and other documents completely flat. You won’t have to worry about causing damage by rolling or folding important files.
Mobile: It should come as no surprise that a mobile file cabinet is one that can easily be moved around the office. These cabinets come equipped with casters that allow it to be rolled over carpets and other surfaces. This provides an easy way to transport files throughout the office and push the cabinet out of the way when it isn’t in use. Instead of a permanent cabinet that takes up space, you can store a mobile model under your desk and simply pull it out when you need to access a file.
Factors to Consider When Selecting the Right File Cabinet: Cost and Size
Cost: You want to find the right value that provides a durable design that will withstand repetitive use without overpaying. Think about how often you will be using the cabinet, what kind of security features and locks you will need and what kind of budget you are working with. Also, be sure to take delivery costs into account and be on the lookout for models that come with free delivery.
Size: Choosing the perfect size file cabinet depends both on how much office space you have to accommodate a file cabinet and how many files and papers you will need to store. Be sure to keep in mind that your storage needs are sure to continue to grow. Purchasing a cabinet that merely meets your current needs could end up being a waste of money. Instead of guessing about dimensions, break out the tape measure and try to get a more exact idea of the size and style of file cabinet that will best meet your needs.
What are the Best File Cabinet Materials?
File cabinets are constructed using four main materials: steel, aluminum, plastic and wood. Each of these different materials offer their own advantages and disadvantages.
Steel file cabinets provide the most durable option on the market. These models are designed to withstand years of use without warping, sagging or wearing down. They are also impact and scratch resistant, so that will continue to look like new even in demanding work environments. When you invest in a steel model, you can rest assured that you won’t have to go file cabinet shopping again for some time.
In addition to durability, steel models also incorporate more features than plastic or wood models. They typically come with lock systems, counterweights for smooth operation and full drawer suspension capabilities. Steel file cabinets are real workhorses that will keep up with your needs.
The biggest disadvantage of steel models is that they aren’t all that aesthetically pleasing. They tend to focus on function over form and come in drab colors that won’t do much to liven up your workspace. If you are looking to break up the monotony that can plague that modern office, you may want to consider a more stylish wood option.
Aluminum file cabinets offer many of the same advantages as steel models. They are also designed to offer a certain level of durability and long-lasting performance. However, aluminum tends to be lighter, cheaper and more malleable. This means that aluminum may not withstand impacts as well as steel, but this might not be an important factor in your office. If you are looking for a more budget friendly option, an aluminum model may be the way to go.
Plastic file cabinets provide an affordable option. Unfortunately, these models aren’t that durable and will need to be replaced over time. If you simply need a temporary solution, a plastic model may get the job done. Just keep in mind that plastic models also lack the same level of security that other materials can provide.
Wood file cabinets offer a more attractive alternative to metal options. While wood is more susceptible to scratches, this only adds to the overall character and patina. In general, wooden file cabinets are just as sturdy and durable as metal models and they offer the extra benefit of creating a warmer office environment. Choose between various colors and finishes to create the right look and feel.
What Types of Files Will You Be Storing?
If you work in a medical field where patient privacy is of the utmost importance, you will want to invest in a high-quality wood or metal file cabinet that can offer a certain level of security. While plastic models may come with an attractive price tag, they simply can’t accommodate the same locking mechanisms that are available in other models.
In addition, if you are storing important and rare documents, you will want to provide the maximum level of protection against outside accidents. You may want to look into steel models that can resist impact and protect against water damage and other potential hazards.
It is also important to consider the size of the documents you will be storing. Most cabinets come equipped to store standard 8.5” X 11” paper. However, law offices who deal with legal size paper may need to purchase cabinets that can accommodate their larger documents. In addition, any archival materials, blueprints and canvases may require a flat file cabinet. These models offer larger drawers that allow documents to lay flat.
Do Your Files Require a Lock?
When it comes to protecting your files, there are a variety of different file cabinet lock options to choose from. The most common types of locks are cam and sliding teeth locks. These often come standard with higher quality models and require a key to gain access.
A cam lock relies on a metal bar to secure the doors in place. As you turn the key, the metal bar on the interior of the door will also rotate. These locks are easy to use and replace if needed. Sliding teeth locks also rely on a mechanism located within the cabinet and are perfect for cabinets with glass sliding doors. When the door is unlocked, a sliding section that is controlled using a key, separated from the main lock.
While these two popular types of locks offer some protection, there are more sophisticated lock options on the market. Cabinets can be equipped with electronic locks that require a key code. Users won’t have to worry about keeping track of a key and electronic codes can be used to monitor and record who is accessing the cabinet.
For heavy duty protection that can also act as a secondary lock, install a lock bar. This device provides a metal bar that runs the length of the cabinet and is secured in place with a padlock. The imposing look of this lock alone is enough to deter anyone thinking about breaking into the cabinet.
Will I Need to Move My File Cabinet?
If you share files with other people in the office, it might make sense to purchase a mobile cabinet. These models can easily be wheeled between locations for easy access. This might be a better solution than having everyone work from a centralized cabinet. Mobile cabinets may also be the perfect storage solution for documents that don’t need to be accessed on a regular basis. The cabinet can be easily stored under a desk or out of the way and wheeled out for use as needed.