7 Practical Tips for a Paperless Office
It’s widely acknowledged that worldwide paper production is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Not only does paper production require the harvesting of the world’s forests, the process also uses harmful chemicals such as chlorine, produces significant emissions and consumes huge amounts of water. These negative impacts make it hugely important for everyone to make changes to the way they conduct business, reducing the amount of paper every business uses could have a huge effect on the environment. As an Environmental Paper Network report states, if offices in just the US reduced office paper use by 10%, 1.6 million tons of emissions would be prevented – equal to taking 280,000 vehicles off the road.
Because paper usage is such a huge issue, the “paperless office” is an increasingly popular concept that hopes to dramatically reduce the amount of paper used across businesses through changing attitudes, behaviours and processes. The following advice hopes to point out ways any business can reduce its paper usage and strive towards a “paperless” situation.
Start Planning Alternatives to Paper
Technology must play a role in achieving a paperless solution, which is why you need to leverage its potential. Remove notepads, pens and post it notes from the office and insist that everyone uses Notepad or emails for recording phone messages or taking notes.
Invest in Laptops or Tablets
If your business regularly holds meetings it can be worth investing in a suite of laptops or tablet computers for the purposes of taking notes. These mobile computing solutions greatly reduce the amount of notepads your business will use, helping to slash paper usage and improve efficiency as notes no longer have to be written up after meetings.
Stop Using Paper Statements
Are your bank and suppliers still sending you invoices and bills on paper? Why not try to ask for this information electronically via emails? You can also try online banking, which not only helps to reduce the amount of paper you receive, but is also more convenient for you as well.
It may be a simple step but giving employees whiteboards by their desks can help to reduce the amount of paper they use dramatically. Whiteboards are reusable, are perfect for adding quick notes and can be used for managing tasks and workloads.
Document Management Systems
Increasingly businesses are looking at document management systems as these digitise documents as they come into the office. Basically this process involves scanning every piece of mail received and every piece of paper so that a digital copy is kept. Not only does this reduce the amount of paper being used across the business, but digital copies are much easier to store, are easier to find and also have a clear audit trail if required.
Use Collaboration Tools to Your Advantage
The advent of cloud storage and online documents has meant business no longer have to print off various iterations of documents in order for people to work collaboratively on them. In fact, Google’s online documents can be worked on simultaneously by different parties, meaning a vast reduction in the printing out of documents purely for access.
Enact Behavioural Change
Many offices are simply used to printing everything out as a matter of course and as such the greatest challenge can be changing people’s mindsets so that they are actively thinking about the paper they are using and are trying to reduce it. Change is typically difficult to accomplish, but through a process of driving awareness combined with incentives it is possible to change the way your employees think about their impact on the environment.
These seven tips are just some of the ways that you can actively reduce paper usage in your business. By following them, and importantly making cultural changes, it is possible to make the small steps necessary to reduce paper consumption and more widely, reduce society’s environmental impact.