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More and more businesses are beginning to go paperless, and it’s no surprise in 2022.
With access to digital devices and the internet, we don’t rely on paper documents like we used to. And let’s be honest, if a PDF or word document can do the job, it‘s arguably unethical to waste paper.
But beyond being more environmentally friendly, going paperless has plenty of other key benefits for your business and employees. Let’s take a closer look at them.
What are the benefits of going paperless?
Ditching physical documents can be a slow process with lots to consider, but achieving a paperless business should bring benefits that make it well worth the effort.
- Cost-saving: as digital technologies have advanced and become drastically cheaper, the comparative cost of expensive printers, toner etc no longer makes sense for many businesses.
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- More room in the office: going paperless frees up office space that would otherwise be used for filing cabinets.
- Easier access to documents for employees: With electronic document management tools now available, employees can get instant access to their documents from a shared server. Whether it’s payslips, contracts, or something practical like a building quote, employees can easily download a copy for their use.
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- Optimized workflow: going paperless means transforming the massive flow of official, paper documents you are using into a digital system to increase efficiency. You could even use an online booking system to manage deliveries and improve logistics without the time-sink of processing physical forms.
- Easier for customers: you can streamline your processes by using systems to handle digital surveys or by using digital signature systems for documents that need authorizing. You could even put links into QR codes like TIMIFY does. This saves you time as well as the cost of printing and posting documents.
Reduced environmental impact: this is an obvious one as we all know this is something we should be trying to do. But, changing processes to reduce paper usage may give employees a boost as they’re working at a progressive and environmentally conscientious business and improve the reputation of your company.
Six steps to build the paperless office of your dreams
If the above benefits have persuaded you to go paperless, we’ll show you how in six steps. So, keep reading.
1. Bring employees into the plan
Tell your employees about your plans to go paperless. It’ll help them prepare for the switch, contribute valuable ideas from their point of view and ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction for a big operational change.
Remember, some employees may prefer (or require) paper documents, so make sure you listen to everyone before making sweeping changes.
2. Simplify the transition to paperless
When your paperless strategy is complete, the end goals should be saved time and resources, and a reduced impact on the environment. But the transition won’t always be smooth sailing.
It’s important to take steps to simplify the transition to becoming a paperless office. This means sending out detailed instructions to employees on what to expect. Explain to employees that the new system will make their jobs easier by giving them easier and more instant access to documents. Of course, provide training if it’s required.
You can also stagger the roll-out, as the requirements of a warehouse will be different from the needs of your accounts department. Implementing paperless solutions gradually across departments will allow you more time to address issues as they arise, rather than all at once.
3. Create a paperless strategy using software
There are plenty of tools available on the market today to help you build the paperless office of your dreams.
Central to your plan will be finding the right software for your business needs. That might include booking software, document management software or the best electronic signature software. While SaaS solutions will require a subscription fee, the cost of uploading, sharing, and storing your documents via a digital tool is much cheaper and more efficient than printing. And you’ll have access to regular efficiency improving updates.
4. Throw the printers out
Now that your employees are ready and you’ve decided what software will help you go paperless, it’s time to throw out the printers.
It’s probably worth keeping one or two printers for general office use, but you should monitor their use to ensure employees are sticking to the paperless plan. By setting up secure printing via a username and password, IT support can monitor who is using the printer more than they should.
We’re all creatures of habit, so by restricting or removing access to paper options you’ll help your staff make the switch.
5. Add a scanner to the office
In the absence of printers, it may be useful to invest in some digital scanners to keep on desks around the office.
Today’s scanners aren’t like the big industrial-sized scanners of the past. You can now get sleek and stylish desktop scanners streamlined for desks. Employees simply pop a document in, press the button, and it will upload to your computer for instant use.
6. Monitor how much paper you’re getting through
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The only way to determine that your transition to paperless has worked is by monitoring how much paper you’re getting through. Most offices will need to use some paper, so set a target for reduction that you can easily check against.
Look through your order history and see how much paper you’re currently ordering compared to the past. Hopefully it’s obvious that your plan has succeeded, but it’s nice to have real data to analyze your efforts and make data-driven decisions around future resource planning and operations strategies.
You might find some departments doing better than others, and knowing that will allow you to support them in reducing paper – or set new goals. Being able to evidence your environmentally-friendly processes is also something that can be presented to consumers, who are increasingly factoring this in when making purchasing decisions.
You should now have an idea of how to go paperless and build the paperless office of your dreams. In doing so, you’ll be reaping the benefits of streamlined business operations, greater convenience, cheaper costs, and a reduced carbon footprint.
Remember as you start the transition that it probably won’t be possible to eliminate all paper at once, with some documents still needing physical copies. But you can set targets to bring your usage down incrementally and keep working towards that paper-free future.