To rum a paperless company doesn’t mean doing away with the paper completely, that’s not realistic so by saying running a paperless company means that you reduce the amount of paper that you use in your company. It is environment friendly, it is cheaper, it organizes work and makes it easy to find information stored in soft copy. Here is how you can reduce paper in your office to run a paperless company.
- Reduce paper print-outs
Instead of passing around hard copy letters to communicate to your employees, use emails or text messages, that will work more efficiently reducing the time it would take to distribute the letters and the amount of paper that would be used to print the letters.
- Use online records
This would be almost impossible some years back but currently there are many software that once you input your data it will never be lost nor tampered with because the software are so secure. What is even more appealing is that the software can hold large masses of data. For legal records for instance, one can use software like case management software.
- if you must print, make it less convenient
if printing is a must in your company, here is the top secret, make the printer less convenient to your staff. Reduce the number of printers and remove printers on their staff desks so that they find it hard to walk to the printer. With this trick, the printing will reduce even to more than 50%.
- Ask for paperless statements from service providers and banks
Make it a culture to use soft copies of statements like bank statements and invoices so that you can easily refer to your gadget for records. Also pay your bills by online means. This apart from reducing paper work, it will also improve in the productivity of your company.
- While it’s decidedly low-tech, actively advocating a culture of reuse and recycling can modify prevailing attitudes toward paper usage. An empty box for collecting non-confidential documents for recycling can help, as do email signatures that discourage the unnecessary printing of emails messages.
Re-architect Key Business Processes
If you want to substantially reduce paper usage, there’s no running away from re-architecting certain business process to identify procedures that make needless use of paper. One of the simplest remedies: Generate reports directly in PDF format, which can be reviewed on a laptop, tablet or even smartphone.
- Do away with physical signing printed documents, particularly internal ones. Even for external contracts, the need for a signature has roots more in historical precedence than actual legal requirement. In the United States, for example, the ESIGN Act of 2000 gives validity to electronic signatures, making an electronic signature contract as legally valid as signed hard-copy contracts.
- Reproduce internal documents on Wikis or online notebooks such as Google Docs or Evernote instead. The latter supports the sharing of entire notebooks or individual notes, which is handy for disseminating both static and dynamic materials such as an employee handbook or meeting notes.
- Completely discard fax from the business process and replace paper forms with fillable PDF forms that are submitted via email or a Web browser. The free PDFescape online tool will create PDF files with the relevant form fields, while paid applications such as Nitro Pro 9 and Acrobat XI offer more sophisticated functionality.
Support Infrastructure to Enable Paperless Office
Getting the right infrastructure can go a long way going paperless office. Below are a number of software tools, services and pieces of hardware that can be put in place to support the paperless office.
- Consider a dual or multi-monitor setup. One common reason that workers print documents is the need to cross-reference them with another document. You can reduce wasteful printing by setting up a multi-monitor workstation. Giving employees two (or three) screens provides more digital real estate and offers a productivity boost at the same time. LCD monitors typically outlast computer upgrades, too, so this is one cost you’ll only need to pay once.
[More: 6 Ways to Use Multiple Displays with Your Laptop]
- In order to work with vendors and clients that insist on using the fax machine, sign up for an online fax provider that will email an incoming fax direct to your inbox. This mature market includes various free and paid options that essentially eliminate the need for a physical fax machine. For example, the eFax paid option allows users to send up to 150 pages per month from an email message, through an online portal, or from a mobile app.
- Digitizing paper notes and printed literature makes it easy to share documents electronically and lowers the temptation to make photocopies. Aside from network scanners, recent years have seen the rise of “personal” scanner meant for small group or even individual use. The portable flatbed Doxie Flip scanner, for example, can capture what’s written in notebooks and other content that may not fit through the feeder of a conventional sheet-fed scanner.
- Optical character recognition (OCR) software turns the static images or PDF files created by hardware scanners into editable files that are substantially more useful. For example, ABBYY FineReader turns PDF files and digital photographs into Microsoft Word, Excel or searchable PDF formats.
[ Case Study: Supermarket Gets Rid of Customer Receipts, Stores Them in Personal Cloud ]
- For the inevitable paperwork that must be printed, using both sides can cut paper usage by half. Printers that support duplex printing today are highly reliable and available at just a slight premium over non-duplex capable models. In fact, many mid-end printers set this feature as default.
Up the Ante on Paperless Productivity
Of course, digitizing paper isn’t just about reducing waste. In many cases, digitized notes offer the convenience of being searchable and occupy no physical space when stored as binary bits on a storage drive. Why not take it to the next level and attempt to increase personal productivity through the use of digitization technologies?
- On this front, a variety of smartphone apps, including CamCard and WorldCard Mobile, will capture the content of business cards and generate a digital contact.
- Meanwhile, for businesses that don’t own a hardware scanner, apps such as TurboScan and Scanner Pro can capture documents with a smartphone’s build-in camera. These files can be subsequently uploaded to a cloud storage service, where they can be shared and subsequently viewed from a smartphone or tablet.
Successfully reducing the use of paper isn’t a one-time event. It’s a series of continuous efforts to move away from paper and establish a culture that frowns on waste. Re-architecting business processes to reduce paper usage is an unavoidable activity, but adopting the right tools can go a long way toward creating an environment to support the paperless office.
Ultimately, businesses shouldn’t stop at eliminating paper but should push for greater digitization in order to reap its full benefits.