As climate change continues, organizations must do their part to transform their throw-away culture in the office. We’ve come a long way since the paper-stacked cubicles and cabinets era, but there’s still a way to go.
Going paperless at work doesn’t have to be difficult. Digital technologies such as visitor management solutions, e-signature software, and cloud-based collaboration tools have made us less dependent on paper at work. And as more and more folks are returning to the workplace, building a better, more sustainable workplace is crucial.
Let’s take a look at 10 ways you can build a paperless office and cut your carbon footprint.
1. Create a paperless office policy
As folks return to work, the best place to start is by creating your own paperless office policy. Make it official and communicate it clearly with your employees. Your paperless office policy can set specific limitations for your employees, such as the amount of paper, packaging, and office supplies used each month. Or it can just outline the expectations that you have for folks to contribute to your sustainability efforts in the office. Whatever you choose to do, communicating with your team is the key to success and wide-spread adoption of paperless office policies.
Hot tip: Select a paperless or environmental champion in the office to create momentum and boost results. This person can document progress and add their own passion to the paperless cause.
2. Encourage recycling and reuse
Promoting recycling and the reuse of paper can help you build a greener workplace. Place recycling bins around the office to collect paper waste and consider using recycled paper for the printer.
Providing replacements for well-known office staples such as paper towels is also a small but effective way to move towards a paperless office. Consider air hand dryers in the bathrooms and reusable towels in the kitchen. Also be sure to provide reusable cutlery, glasses, and plates for people to use in the office instead of paper or plastic.
3. Replace paper copies with cloud-based storage
A lot of organizations today have transitioned from hard-drive storage to the cloud. Cloud-based storage programs include Google Drive, Sharepoint, and Box, each with different levels of storage and capabilities. Cloud-based storage helps you go paperless at work by offering the ability to digitally collaborate on documents. It also ensures documents are securely stored and backed-up, saving you the time and hassle of printing paper copies to keep in case.
4. Use digital apps
There’s an app for that. It’s true – whatever you want to do in the workplace, there’s probably an app for it.
Utilizing apps and digital solutions will help you go paperless in the office. Whether it’s project management tools like Asana, communication tools like Slack or Teams, or note-taking tools like Evernote, there’s no excuse to still rely on paper or printed documents. Items like meeting agendas can be created and updated using digital apps, helping you to build a paperless office that works for everyone.
Hot tip: Encourage your team to use the same app for day-to-day work. Consider apps like Trello or Asana which can be good for to-do lists, both individual and shared.
5. Ditch the paper and pen logbook
Nowadays, paper log books seem to be an outdated way of tracking visitors. Folks write their name and company on a paper sign-in sheet. It seems straight-forward, but there are efficiency and security concerns with this method. Not to mention someone likely typing up the information later for a digital record anyway. These days, digital sign-in software is a faster, secure, and more efficient way of logging people in and out of your building. Plus, it saves you paper, too.
6. Implement a visitor management system
Talking of digital sign-in software, a visitor management solution is a great way to transform the sign-in process into an efficient, paperless one. Visitors are able to sign in electronically, inputting necessary data such as vaccination verification, personal details, and signatures on an iPad. This saves you having different paper forms for different visitors. It also enables you to track visitors digitally and maintain pristine and secure records of who has come on-site.
7. Use e-signature software
Technology that allows for legally valid electronic signature documents is well known. Companies such as DocuSign offer digital signatures for things like contracts and legal documents. Not only does this improve security by keeping everything in one place and stored securely online, but it removes the need to print, sign, and physically store paper versions in the workplace.
Hot tip: Look for visitor management and e-signature software that seamlessly integrates with one another. Not only does this save paper, it also saves you time.
8. Move finance to digital
Finance is always the trickiest department to move online due to the huge amount of historical data. Printed paper invoices, agreements, and checks can be wasteful. They can also be a major threat to security if valuable information is printed out and left around the office or lost.
The good news is that the shift to remote working forced many finance departments to embrace better, cloud-based systems for invoicing, tracking, and analytics. If you haven’t moved fully online already, there are several online systems you can use for invoices: Bill.com, Square, FreshBooks, and Xero to name a few.
Hot tip: Look for software providers that offer an all-in-one platform, so your HR and finance system can be the same. This helps save any paper that might need to be printed and shared between departments.
9. Reconsider paperless marketing
Think of ways to communicate digitally with prospects and customers instead of traditional paper methods. Direct mail campaigns can be effective, but try to find other ways to resonate with your audience. Email campaigns, ebooks, blog posts, social media posts, videos, and digital ads are all proven marketing tactics.
10. Get smart about office supplies
Develop purchasing guidelines that encourage waste prevention. Concentrate on durable, reusable, recycled, and high-quality materials. Monitor office supply inventory and track usage to optimize future orders.
Building a paperless office doesn’t have to be a huge hassle–and to be honest, with the world switching to remote work during the pandemic, you should already be part way there.
As your folks return to the workplace, ensure they continue their work online rather than reverting back to paper and printing. Not sure where to begin in your own workplace? Start at the front door and invest in a digital visitor management system to kickstart your paperless policies.