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10 ways to go paperless in the office

Reduce your workplace’s environmental footprint and enhance workplace security and compliance with these 10 tips for going paperless in the office.

We’ve been waiting for the paperless office for years, hoping that advances in technology, which have improved our lives in many ways, would eventually remove paper stacked at the front desk, piled in our cubicles, shoved in drawers, tucked in cabinets, and stashed in storage closets around the office.

The workplace experience is overly dependent on paper, which has had a serious negative environmental impact. Not only is the dependence on paper bad for the environment, this reliance also makes it hard to track down specific documents when you need to access them most. What’s more, workplace security and compliance efforts are challenged by the need to store information in a safe, organized, and legally responsible way.

Luckily, a variety of factors are colliding in the modern workplace, making the paperless office a reality. Technologies relating to visitor management, e-signatures, team collaboration, and external communications are making this possible. Technology, combined with mindful paperless office policies, work together to make the office a more sustainable place.

Workplace managers who are interested in shrinking their environmental footprint realize that going paperless is not only good for the environment—it also makes employees’ lives easier and the office safer.

As we move toward the workplace of the future, here are 10 steps you can take to build a paperless office:

1) Take a Stand

Make your paperless office policy official and accessible. Let everybody in the office know key benchmarks and goals for usage, like the amount of paper used monthly. You can set up specific limitations for paper printing, packaging, office supplies, marketing materials, and mailings.

It’s also a good idea to select a paperless champion in the office to create momentum and boost results. This person can document the progress being made and add a personal element to the paperless cause.

2) Start at reception

The look and feel of your reception area sends a message about your workplace and your company as a whole. You want to strive for a workplace that is modern, streamlined, and connected.

You no longer need to print and file paper documents, keep a sign-in sheet at the front desk, handwrite visitor badges, or leave notes for employees when their guests have arrived. There are many high-tech tools available to transform your reception into a paperless lobby.

3) Downplay printing

Put less emphasis on office printers and promote the use of easily shareable file formats like Portable Document Formats (PDFs), digital signature software, internal communication tech tools, and electronic record filing—all of which make it easier to rely less on paper.

Do you use a bulletin board to share announcements? Or print the schedule for each meeting room and post it on the outside of the door? Look to replace these with digital signage, like a meeting room scheduling system.

4) Move to digital financial statements

Make arrangements with banks, suppliers and customers to move to electronic banking, online invoicing and paperless bank statements. These new practices will cut down on the use of paper and envelopes, while also improving productivity.

5) Encourage recycling and reuse

Promoting recycling and the reuse of paper materials can modify attitudes toward paper use. Keep a recycle bin in a common area to collect paper waste and label a box of one-sided printed sheets for notes and other activities. We also suggest you purchase recycled paper for the printer.

6) Find paper alternatives

Consider replacements for well-known office staples such as paper towels and paper cups. Reusable towels and mugs offer pleasant alternatives. Companies like Envoy ask every new hire to bring a mug to share with the office. This shows personality and gives new employees something to talk about. It also eliminates the need for paper cups and disposable mugs.

7) 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.

8) It’s time for electronic signature software

Technology that allows for legally valid electronic signature documentation is well known. Several companies make it easy to collect digital signatures on contracts and legal docs to avoid printing, signing, faxing, and physical storage. Among them are DocuSign, PandaDoc and Adobe Sign.

9) Paper-free internal communications

Every office should use some form of electronic internal communications for collaboration, project management, and company notifications. If you are still relying on passing paper, you should consider your options. A few examples include Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Docs, Trello, and Asana.

10) Be 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.

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Jack McCarthy
Author Bio Jack McCarthy