If you work in an office today, our guess is you don’t see as much paper as you used to.
Over the last 2 decades, computers have finally removed much of the need for paper.
It took a long time to get there. The advent of computing actually increased the amount of paper used in offices as printing and photocopying improved between 1980 and 2000.
But since then, the amount of paper produced has levelled off and decreased as more and more happens on screen. Now many offices want to do away with paper altogether, or at least significantly reduce how much paper they hold on to.
And it’s a lot easier to do than it used to be.
Below we look at the reasons why your office might want to go paperless and how your office can do it if you haven’t already.
What does paperless mean?
Having a paperless or paper free office means the need for paper is removed or at least greatly reduced.
You get to this point by changing your processes and putting standards in place to make it less integral to how you do business.
Existing paper documents need to be digitised so that the original copies can be discarded (and recycled!)
The benefits of going paperless for your business
So why should you go paperless? Some industries will find this harder than others and some won’t be going fully paperless anytime soon.
But there are a number of benefits worth thinking about, both for your company and for the planet.
1. Communication and collaboration efficiency
Printing out, photocopying and distributing paper documents around the office or by post is nothing if not time consuming.
This usually isn’t the end of the process either, especially if forms and documents need signing, editing, scanning and maybe even printing off again.
A paperless approach allows you to get rid of these needless steps and view, edit, share and sign things in real time on your screen. Communicating and transferring information is instantaneous across the internet.
Not as much is sent by post these days, with email being the preferred option, but you could even go one step further. Unified comms platforms such as MS Teams or Slack allow you to communicate in different ways, appropriate to the situation.
2. Better for the environment
One of the most common reasons people talk about paperless is papers impact on the environment.
It’s fairly well documented that the vast quantities of paper being produced have a negative impact on the world’s forests. Whilst there are sustainable ways of producing paper, an effort to reduce its use is only going to be a good thing.
It’s not just the cutting down of trees that poses a threat. The chemicals and waste materials used to produce paper are often harmful to the environment and the environmental cost of distribution is also high.
3. Save costs
By reducing the amount of paper in your office you can make big savings on paper and printing. Along with cost of postage, if this is part of your communication strategy, the space used to file documents could also be better used. This space could be repurposed for a more profitable business activity.
4. Create a better workspace
As well as getting things done faster, you can also make your office tidier.
Going paperless does away with endless notes, documents and memos piling up on your desk, which not only slow down your processes but also make the place look messy.
It’s well known that a clean and organised workspace can actually help you have a more productive working day.
The time required to actually process these documents and action them is also significantly reduced, clearing up space in your day to get other tasks done.
Paper documents also present a security hazard. Important documents stored on your premises are not only at risk from fire and flood but that information could also fall into the wrong hands.
Storing a load of information on paper is not the most secure option no matter how unlikely a data breach may be. Also, if your current solution involves a lot of shredding, this is time that could be reclaimed.
How does your office go paperless?
The chances are your office already uses a lot less paper than it would have done 10 years ago.
Email, databases and using the internet for reference are all standard practice in most offices.
However, you can always implement more automation, digital signing, electronic forms and more.
The real question is how you get your office to fully ditch paper. It’s a pretty radical move after all.
Get your office on board
These changes will become less radical as time goes on but as it stands, there will still be some resistance to getting rid of trusty old paper.
The key is to ease reticent employees in and clearly explain the benefits of making this change. At the end of the day, it will make their jobs easier and have a number of wider benefits.
Some people may worry that it will affect regulatory compliance but, in many cases, because of the inbuilt security features of the software you’re using, compliance is already covered.
Have a document expiration date
Setting a document expiration date means limiting how long a document can be floating around the office.
Initially, at least, you’re still going to have paper in the office but one way of reducing its use is making people ask, do they need to hold on to it or can it be actioned or digitised?
Without a ruthless approach, it can be so easy to let things slip.
Get out of old habits
Get out of the habit of printing documents or emails when software is perfectly capable of storing and sharing that information.
To change your company culture in this way, your managers will need to encourage their teams to follow alternative routes instead of resorting to the traditional way of doing things.
If your marketing is heavily paper based it might also be worth asking whether you can change this and seek out alternative marketing channels.
Digitisation of documents
One of the biggest challenges is getting rid of all the paper you currently have on file.
Digitising the stuff you already have can be a long and arduous process so it’s important that it’s done efficiently.
Giving each department the responsibility to digitise their own info and data is a good step. Having software on hand to make this easy is also very useful…
Get Paperless software to do the hard work
As well as using existing cloud software to take care of your accounting, communication, file sharing and more, there are also programs designed specifically to help you go paperless and transfer your documentation to the digital realm.
Fortunately, we have a couple of solutions for this very issue.
If you think you might need these software then feel free to drop us a message.
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