7 Steps to Making the Paperless Office a Reality
What was a whisper for years is finally a reality: the future of work is paperless! If you’ve been contemplating going paperless at the office, there’s no time like the present to start. After all, there are tons of reasons why going paperless is beneficial to your business.
Benefits of a Paperless Office
- Reducing your business’s environmental footprintby lowering waste from paper, toners, ink cartridges, etc.
- Decreasing expenses on paper, printers, copiers, fax machines, inks, toners, shredding services, and physical file storage
- Saving on overhead costs with smaller office spaces and fewer off-site storage requirements
- Increasing employee satisfaction while lowering anxiety and stress due to physical clutter
- Decreasing duplication of effort on paper-driven signature forms, in-hand courier deliveries, and manual data entry of forms
- Boosting work efficiency with well-planned, easy-to-search, centralized digital filing systems and storage
- Increasing customer service and productivity in live settings through speedy digital responsiveness
While the upsides are clear, going paperless can be a challenging shift for many people who are more comfortable with their old ways. Adapting to new methods can be distressing, and certainly can’t be done overnight. So, it’s important to know that moving to a paperless office might not be as simple as it sounds.
Just as with any other process change in your office, systemic tools and training that make it easier for your employees to go paperless will produce better results.
Do your due diligence
Experiment with your own workflow first. Identify where most of the paper comes from, where it’s used, why, where it’s disposed of and/or where it’s stored. This can help you map out how a new digital system could look.
Set up technology
Once you understand your workflow and the biggest sources of paper use, use your findings to outline the best tech solutions for each stage of your paper trail. Start with the biggest buckets first: templates, fillable administration forms, a clear and straightforward file system on a shared platform, easy digital retrieval, and sharing options that don’t require printing or copying.
Create a paperless filing system
Moving to paperless means that you’ll finally be able to say goodbye to your filing cabinets, but you’ll still need storage for your digital files. Investing in a digital data storage solution that allows for both at-your-fingertips file searching and long-term safety takes some research, but the payoff in terms of security, ease, and efficiency is worthwhile.
Provide in-depth training
Not everyone adapts at the same speed or with the same ease. Providing across-the-board training and resources to assist your employees in learning new processes will offer everyone the opportunity to learn, fail, learn again, and succeed in bringing your new paperless processes to life.
Make printers and copiers less convenient.
This one might sound a bit tricky but making it a little more difficult to use your printers and copiers can actually help reduce the reliance employees have on using them, especially if there are departmental caps on usage to help keep everyone aligned. These deterrents can be built-in like a tax that brings you one step closer to going paperless.
Replace scanners/faxes with online versions
One of the simplest steps you can take towards going paperless is moving from office functions that used to require physical solutions to digital ones. Scanning and faxing are the simplest and quickest to shift. Even better, these digital options automatically store documents that would usually require more back and forth (like signature runs and filing), removing steps and increasing efficiency!
Set goals for incremental change
Like any new policy, change happens over time – not overnight. Setting goals for different levels of achievement will help you prioritize which changes to make first and which objectives the team should work towards. You might never go 100% paper-free, but 50% over 3 years or 80% over 5 years is remarkable!
What will your first paperless office look like? How will you build your new digital processes?