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Color code groups of keys, tag each and label each clearly. Make sure the spares are also tagged, labeled, and kept separate from the main keys. Hanging keys up makes them easier to find and return to the right place. Use a sign-out book and keep records of who has copies of each key.
Offices tend to have a lot of keys that multiple people need access to. It’s hard to keep track of these keys, and you don’t necessarily want everyone to have copies of all the keys. With so many people handling the office keys, they can quickly become lost, misplaced, and disarranged.
Organizing, and more importantly, keeping the office keys organized, does not have to be a headache! With a few inexpensive products and a bit of time out-lay, you can say goodbye to hunting for the right key, making new copies, or replacing door locks.
Inherited Office: Match Keys to Locks
When you inherit an office space from previous tenants, then you are usually provided with a whole bunch of keys. Depending on how the last people handled their keys, you could get anything, including a box full of loose and unlabeled keys!
The first task to set yourself is to match each key to its lock, whether this is a drawer, a window, a door, or the kitchen cabinets. Make a note of any lock that does not have a matching key and put aside the keys that do not apparently open anything.
For the locks without keys, if you believe it is necessary for them to be locked, then replace the locks. For the unknown keys, tag them as unknown and keep them; you never know.
Tag Keys From the Start
Tag all the keys as soon as you match them to a lock, buy them, or copy them. This is not something you should delay or assume you’ll remember what lock they belong to. Firstly, “I’ll remember” are famous last words—for me, anyway. But secondly, in an office, you are unlikely to be the only person who will need to know what each key is for.
Write out the Labels Clearly
Getting to and writing on that small piece of paper in windowed key tags can be quite frustrating, or at least tedious when you are doing it on an office scale. However, I recommend that you spend the time labeling all your keys clearly and carefully; it will really be worth your while.
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Colors are a good enough indicator for a household, but for an office, there are not likely to be enough colors to allow each key to have its own. Furthermore, the more keys and colors you have, the harder it is to remember which color is for which lock.
Another pointer I would give is to make sure the little plastic cover is over the paper to protect the label from water.
Write the label clearly and give as much detail as required.
Tag the Spares and Store Separately
I am always quite surprised how many people keep spare office keys with the original! This completely defeats the purpose of a spare key.
The spares should be tagged from the start, along with the main key. They should also be labeled as spares. If you lose the main key and have to switch to the spare, you want everyone to know this.
If the main key does not show up after a certain amount of time, then it will be safer to cut a new key.
While colors are not ideal to designate individual keys, they can be great for grouping keys together.
For example, all the kitchenette keys can be labeled red, the internal office doors blue, the bathrooms yellow, etc. Or, if you have a bigger outfit, you can assign a color to each department or floor.
Grouping Keys on a Key Chain
If the nature of your office space requires the keys to be kept on a big key chain handled by one person, then I still recommend color coding and clear labeling.
Then, for each color group, attach a smaller ring onto the big main ring so that you know if you are heading to office D, you need to look on the ring with all the red tags, for example.
You can even look at using colored key rings to make the smaller keyrings the same color as their group.
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Hang the Keys Up
Use a key box, such as the BARSKA Adjustable Key Cabinet Lock Box (amazon link), to hang up your keys and keep them all visible. It makes it easy to see what’s missing or in use, keep them from getting tangled together, and minimize the change of keys going missing.
Furthermore, with the space for a complementary label in the box, there is no excuse for hanging a key in the wrong place.
Alternative options are a pegboard and adhesive wall hooks (amazon link).
Have a Sign-out Book
If multiple people require access to the same keys, then instead of making copies for each, you have one set hanging up and a record book to log who has the key, when they took it, and when it was returned.
This can save you a good bit of time. Instead of panicking and searching for ages, you see who had the key last. Likely they stuffed it into a pocket and forgot to put it back.
Keep a Record of Who Has a Copy
If multiple people have to have a copy of a key, for example, if you need each employee to have a building key so that they can get into the office, then make a note on how many copies there are and who has them.
Then, when there is staff turnover, you know where all the keys are, and you don’t have to keep making more copies. The more copies of the keys there are, the greater the security risk.
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