Every New Year, our thoughts naturally turn to resolutions. In our personal lives, the obvious choices are improve my diet, exercise more, etc. But at the office, the choice isn’t always as simple. One option to consider is going paperless.
There are several good reasons to go paperless. Not only is it good for the environment; helping to prevent tree cutting, the need to manufacture printers and inks and the associated transport and logistics costs; it is also beneficial to business costs and efficiency.
If you’re interested in going paperless, but aren’t sure where to start. Our helpful guide below will hopefully set you in the right direction.
Start Digital Archiving
Looking around most offices, it is not difficult to spot reams of paper and old files, whether they be tucked away neatly in an organized system or scattered all over everyone’s desks.
The image above sets a precedent for future work practices, giving employees justification for using the printer, notebooks or filing the old-fashioned way. By archiving all old documents into digital copies and clearing away all traces of paper, you set a new precedent – we are paperless.
Archiving documents isn’t as time consuming as you may think. You will probably find that a lot of old paperwork is no longer required and can be safely shredded (if required) and recycled. All essential paperwork can be easily scanned, too. All you need is a scanner with an automatic feeder. If that’s too time consuming, you can send your documents away to be scanned; companies like Stor-a-file do the heavy work for you. Smaller documents can be scanned using your smartphone, too. Evernote Scannable is a superb, easy to use app for document storage.
Make sure all your documents are stored securely in the cloud. This way you are not just freeing up office space, you are creating a file system accessible from anywhere.
Stop Incoming Paper
With your old paperwork stored away, you need to turn your attention to the prevention of new paperwork. Bills, invoicing and other professional correspondence can easily be switched to paperless only communication, as can all banking documents.
Junk mail is harder to deal with and often accounts for as much as half of office mail. Try putting a recycling bin near your workplace entrance, so such mail ends up where it belongs straight away.
Many offices still use fax machines and / or mail correspondence for contract signing. While it may seem hard to get around this particular paper trail, this process can easily be digitized with the use of services like DocuSign. This process has other benefits, too, helping to avoid those awkward “it’s in the post” conversations!
Old habits die hard. Without changes to company systems and infrastructure, the use of paper is likely to continue the same as before. The printer needs to be stigmatised! If possible, printers should be removed from the office completely. If this is unrealistic, consider password protecting the printer, meaning any use will have to be justified. This will also eliminate any sneaky personal use and the risk of secure information leaving the office in paper form.
Stop providing staff with free notebooks, too. Or perhaps a signing out system for all stationery would be a good compromise. In the digital age, there is no reason why all notes, internal communications, task management and presentation creation can’t be done using digital alternatives. There are too many to list here!
Another way to prevent paper use is to remove the number of small bins in the office. A single recycling bin and a single waste bin whereby people have to leave their desk to use them will dramatically reduce paper use and waste creation.
Finally, if you really want to help the environment, start ordering items in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging material you receive.
Remove Books and Magazines
Seriously, who reads books and magazines in paper format these days? In the recycling bin they go. To keep office visitors entertained at reception, a Wi-Fi password is usually sufficient.
Where Did My Office Go?
Many offices use 25% of their space for paper storage; this doesn’t include space taken up by printers, copiers and the like. Going paperless may make you ask “where did my office go?” A storage container may be required temporarily to store all your old filing cabinets and other redundant equipment. For many companies, going paperless has been so transformative, that it has removed the need to relocate their offices!