Going paperless saves time, money, and space, but scrapping paper isn't as simple as just getting rid of your printer. It's a significant organizational change that requires a comprehensive strategy, yet the benefits justify the effort.
Paper has been a ubiquitous office staple for centuries. It's hard to imagine a workplace without paper documents, but with advances in technology, companies are using less paper than ever.
While some benefits of going paperless are self-evident — reduced environmental impact and less clutter, for example — others may be more surprising.
Financial savings: When you cut paper, you not only save on the cost of paper itself, you remove the costs of printer repair and maintenance, toner, shredding services, and postage.
Time savings: Papers are easy to misplace. When all your documents are digitized and organized according to a system, your team no longer wastes time hunting for that missing piece of paper.
Increased collaboration: Further, those digital documents are accessible from anywhere. Whether you're on vacation and need to get an important document to a co-worker or your whole team is remote, everybody in the organization can access everything they need in a few clicks.
Increased security: Storing your documents online provides an added layer of security. With document encryption, your files are protected. Plus, a system that includes cloud-based backups ensures your information isn't lost if your office experiences a disaster, such as a flood or fire.
First, know that the process doesn't happen overnight. Radically decreasing paper usage is a huge change, and people need time to adapt. Start by setting small, time-bound, attainable goals, such as reducing your paper usage by 20% per year.
To measure such a goal, assess your current paper usage to get a baseline measurement. Conduct an audit of all the business processes that use paper, and quantify your current usage.
Next, get everyone on the same page. Explain the benefits of going paperless, and seek input on ideas for quick wins. Employees who have a chance to contribute to improving business processes have greater accountability over the process and a greater incentive to see it succeed.
The following tools can aid you in your paperless goals.
PDF merging: A quick way to organize your existing documents is to scan them and turn them into PDFs. If you combine PDFs into one file, you can merge multiple documents into one file and rearrange the pages as needed.
Online forms: If you use forms in your business, cut paper dramatically by switching to online forms. This saves tons of time as your employees no longer have to input data manually.
Cloud storage: Invest in a good cloud storage option for your team, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Assign someone in your business to create a document management system before introducing the new software to the team.
Going paperless is a lofty but worthwhile goal. Get the support you need for running an environmentally friendly and competitive business by joining your local chamber of commerce.
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