Learn how to go paperless to save your office time, money, space, headaches, and inconvenience while reducing your environmental impact. In this article, we’ll dig into the benefits of going paperless, how to do it, and what software will help you make the switch.
A paperless office is exactly what it sounds like—an office that no longer uses paper. It may seem like a far-fetched idea, but with the many online solutions and paperless software available, a paperless office is an achievable reality.
Is it worth making the switch? There are many reasons why paperless offices are appealing to business owners, office managers, and employees.
Organized paperless filing solutions can save everyone in your office a bunch of time that can be better used elsewhere. No more digging through piles of papers, hunting down a single document, or walking across the office to look for something. All of your files are stored online in one convenient space so that you can find what you’re looking for with one simple search.
As any business owner will tell you, improving time management in an office is a money saver. When your employees aren’t focused on finding lost or unorganized documents, they can focus more time on their own productivity.
Removing all of those bulky office filing cabinets will reveal a bunch of new office space that you can use to grow your team or improve the workplace. Consider all of the space you will gain once you eliminate filing cabinets, fax machines, and paper inventory.
A paperless office is free from location restraints. This is a huge asset if you have multiple locations, employees who travel for work, or anyone who works from home.
Working remotely becomes easier to envision once your workplace goes paperless. Does a snowstorm have your team stranded? No problem—they can access the work they need from the safety of their home. Sick child or loved one? Keep the germs out of the office! Instead of using up sick days or vacation days, an employee can continue to work from the comfort of their home.
An online storage system means you and your team can securely access the documents you need, even when being physically in the office isn’t an option.
Guard important documents and prove compliance by moving all of your files to a secure online location. Tracking and managing compliant paper systems is expensive and gives you less control over authorization access. Electronic document filing can provide built-in security, including restricted access to confidential documents.
If the time savings, office space, security, and convenience weren’t enough, you’ll be doing your part to help the environment, too. Offices are huge paper wasting machines, and although recycling can help, it only moderately reduces your office’s impact. As an office manager or business owner, you have the power to help combat climate change one reduced document at a time.
Don’t try to go completely paperless at once, especially if your office regularly uses a lot of paper. Try one paperless solution at a time to reduce transitional impact and make it easier on your team.
If you go paperless all at once, you and your employees will become overwhelmed, which could lead to giving up entirely.
You can’t change what you don’t track. How much paper does your office go through in a given day, week, or month? What is that paper used for? And who is using the most paper?
Do you have employees who like to brainstorm on printer paper only to crumple it up and toss the ideas they don’t like in the trash? Are your employees printing one-sided documents instead of printing on both sides of the page?
Track the paper you use in the office and what it’s being used for to identify unnecessary waste as well as what changes would yield the most impact. If you find a significant amount of printing is going towards meeting notes, change your company policy, so meeting notes are always shared online instead. If you find a significant amount of paper is used for printing proposals, switch to an electronic proposal system. Examining your paper use will help you determine what changes you should implement first.
Make paper less readily available around the office. Reduce the number of printers you have in the office and limit the amount of paper you keep in the supply closet.
Consider setting up an online request system so that any employee who wants to print something needs to give a reason why first. The simple act of thinking through why you need to print something may be enough to realize you really don’t need to use the printer after all.
What paper mail does your office receive, and what can you eliminate? If you get banking statements and paper bills, switch these to online banking and billing.
Ask vendors if they can switch you to online invoicing instead. Ask if they can email invoices or if you can set up an automatic payment system.
Lead by example to help others make the switch. Even the simple act of asking vendors and clients if they will help you switch to online interactions over paper can get the conversation started outside of your own office.
Share your struggles and successes online and with other businesses in your community. Your experiences could inspire others to make the switch, and your insights will make the transition easier for the next office that goes paperless.
Since most business is conducted on paper, it may be difficult to imagine your office becoming completely paperless. How will any work get done? How will important documents be stored? Where can you write something down that you need to remember?
Going paperless requires an investment in technology and software that will transform your office into a business of the future.
Forget 20th-century filing cabinets, sign-in forms, and fax machines—they are tomorrow’s typewriters and rotary phones. Technology is changing rapidly, and it’s important your business isn’t left behind. Paperless office solutions are designed to make the day-to-day operations of your business more efficient and convenient. You can save time and money while helping the environment along the way.
There are a number of paperless software available online, both free and paid, that can help you make the switch.
You no longer need a physical signature to get important documents signed. With DocuSign, agreements and documents are signed in minutes rather than days. DocuSign handles the entire process securely online, saving you time and paper.
Envoy keeps track of packages, deliveries, and visitors to modernize the reception of your office. iPad sign-in allows guests to sign in digitally, so there’s no wasted paper while maintaining a record of everything and everyone that comes through your door.
GoodNotes turns your iPad or iPhone into a notebook by providing digital paper where you can jot down any handwritten notes. An added bonus is everything you write in GoodNotes is searchable, so you’ll never have to comb through your notebook again.
Google gives every user 15 GB of free storage, so you no longer need to keep documents in a file cabinet. Files are shared across your business and found with the click of a button rather than rummaging through a drawer.
Google Documents are free, shareable online documents that can replace Word documents and printed files. With Google Docs, there's no need to print a file to share with a coworker or client. All files are shareable with editing permissions and auto-tracked document changes.
Trello is a limitless online sticky notes wall. Trello uses customizable Kanban-like boards that can be used to organize just about anything and is free forever for unlimited boards, cards, and lists. Trello helps teams work more collaboratively while managing tasks and projects in an online space.
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