Since papyrus was re-branded as paper and Gutenberg press first began printing, the ideal of the ‘Paperless Office’ has been strived for by some and derided by others as an impossible dream, fanciful folklore and a mere modern myth.
In 2014, Wrap.org (Waste & Resources Action Programme) calculated that the average office worker in the U.K. uses 45 pieces of paper a day – with over half of this figure considered as waste.
A depressing statistic indeed, but as the new year is a time for optimism and promise, a time to lay yesterday’s bad habits to rest and turn over a new leaf, we’re looking at easy and cost-effective ways to set your company on track to achieve the seemingly unachievable.
Introduce Electric Signatures
Sometimes there’s just no substitute for a nice weighty piece of paper. Like, for instance, when you need a physical signature on an important document. This is one of the rare occasions when it’s ok to say “hey environment, you don’t mind do you?”
Hmm. Sorry but yes, the environment does mind. Copying and printing forms in order to get written signatures is one of the most common practices in the workplace – from estate agents to law firms, schools and hospitals – everyone’s doing it and has been for far too long. Yet in most countries (including the U.S. and the U.K.) e-signatures hold the same legal weight as traditional, hand-scribed authentications. Changing your company policy to make sure that electronic signatures are compulsory in all cases is one sure-fire way to stop this madness once and for all.
Curtail Your Snail Mail
Wage-slips, bills and invoices – if you haven’t switched the majority of your company correspondence to paperless methods, you’re not only hurting the environment, you’re hurting your stationary bill too. Transform your mailshots to e-shots and change corporate Christmas cards to e-cards to drastically cut-down company paper usage. Fully switching to an online marketing strategy can save tonnes of paper and provide instant and more reliable statistics for your company about who has viewed and engaged with your campaign.
Newspaper minus the Paper
With the proliferation of tablets, phablets and smartphones in the workplace, why are we still reading newspapers on former forests? If you’re someone who thinks that you can’t substitute the ‘feel’ of the real thing, then perhaps take a moment to consider how it will ‘feel’ when the earth is a smouldering crater… Ok, so we’re being a little dramatic, but with so much free and up-to-the-minute news content available on the web, along with very reasonably priced subscriptions to most popular news publications, maybe it’s time to make use of company property for something other than just emails and calls.
Whilst many offices have enforced double-sided printing policies and introduced tactics to reduce printer use (replacing smaller machines with one central printer located a walk away from all employees) we’re suggesting another way to limit what makes it to the printer tray. Printer codes or fobs that restrict the amount of printing that can be done by each employee per day/week can be particularly effective in weaning members of staff off their addiction to the white stuff.
Share files internally (and paperless-ly) using useful online applications like Google Docs. This file sharing app not only saves trips to the printer but also allows users to work on a document simultaneously, automatically saving every time the file is modified.
All these suggestions provide a way of setting a course towards an eventual paper-free office environment. And looking at these tip you may notice a theme: technology. Technology is making one valuable leap after the next in granting the average office worker the means to gradually reduce the amount of paper used in the office without hindering productivity. And as technology continues to develop, it’s no longer relevant to argue that the ‘Paperless Office’ is inefficient and unattainable. Instead, it’s time to make a date (in your online diary, of course) to make the change for good.
Christiana Brockbank writes for Ecard Mint, a corporate ecard provider and champion of eco-friendly marketing methods for small to medium-sized businesses.