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How to Create a Paperless Office

Imagine you’ve just walked through the door on the first day of your new job. You’ve signed your contract, gone through HR onboarding, collaborated with your colleagues, and even sent an invoice – and all without touching a single piece of paper.

The “paperless office” has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s easy to see why – it can help to reduce costs, slash emissions, and boost your team’s workflow efficiency. Explore how to run a paperless office, right here.

What is a paperless office?

A paperless office is exactly what it sounds like – a work environment wherein the usage of paper is either eliminated completely or greatly reduced. The concept of the “paperless office” has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the advent of electronic documents, e-signatures, and email that they really became a viable option.

But there’s still a long way to go. From presentation handouts to physical receipts, bank statements to contracts, many vital business functions still revolve around paper. However, with so many benefits associated with the paperless office, that may be about to change.

What are the benefits of a paperless office?

There are a broad range of advantages associated with a paperless office strategy. First off, let’s talk about the environmental benefits of a paperless office. Going paperless can help to reduce your CO2 emissions, which is likely to have an incredible impact on your overall environmental impact. After all, trees only produce around 17 reams of paper, and with the average UK office using around 830 pieces of paper per month, removing paper from your business processes could be genuinely beneficial.

Beyond the environmental benefits of a paperless office, there’s the economic factor. You’ll be able to save money on printing, ink, postage, and file storage. If your business uses a lot of paper, this could end up being a significant saving. It’s also important to remember that a paperless office is a smaller office – after all, you won’t need space for any file cabinets or bookshelves – and as such, you could also save money on rent by transitioning to a leaner office space.

You may also want to think about the increased efficiency of a paperless office. Not only can it help to reduce clutter but eliminating your reliance on paper can also lead to better digital collaboration between your team members. Plus, if your team is able to find files at the click of a button, they’ll be able to spend more time on important tasks that actually add value to your business, rather than spending hours rifling through physical files in search of the right document.

Furthermore, going paperless can ensure that your files are more secure. When you’re dealing with paper, files can be misfiled, lost, or destroyed without anyone ever noticing. Plus, it’s much more difficult to monitor who has access to your company’s sensitive files, how many copies there are, and who they’ve been shared with. Disaster recovery is also simpler with digital files. Think about it. If you’re storing files in filing cabinets, fires or floods can make recovery a nightmare.

Is a paperless office a reality or not?

That all sounds great, but is the paperless office a reality, or not? While some businesses may be dragging their feet, innovations like e-signatures, electronic documents, the cloud, and online file storage have made the paperless office a genuine possibility for businesses all over the world. And while it’s probably impossible (and unnecessary) for most businesses to completely eliminate paper from their workflow, there’s no reason why the vast majority of companies shouldn’t be able to transition to a largely paperless working environment.

Best paperless office strategy tips

Now that you know a little more about the paperless office, you’re probably wondering how to start reducing paper within your own business. Find out how to run a paperless office with our handy tips:

  1. Estimate your current paper needs – Even for small businesses, it can be difficult to know how much paper you’re actually getting through. Conduct an audit to determine how much you’re printing and work out what the potential cost savings of going paperless could be.

  2. Start going digital – Moving to cloud-based applications can help cut down on the amount of work your company is doing on paper. For example, Google Docs can be used for collaborating on files, while Dropbox can be used to share and store your documents.

  3. Train your team – The shift to a paperless office strategy isn’t always plain sailing, particularly when your employees have been working a certain way for a long period of time. Provide proper training and incentivize your staff with rewards for printing fewer documents.

  4. Scan documents you receive from other people – You might be going paperless, but that doesn’t mean your clients or vendors are as well. Purchase a document scanner to store any paperwork you receive (invoices, receipts, etc.) in PDF format.

  5. Update your office – Finally, you need to ensure that you’re fully taking advantage of your paperless office strategy. That means updating your office. For example, you may want to think about getting dual monitors so that your employees can work on multiple documents at the same time.

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