Workplace technology has come a long way and today we can easily throw our work documents into the cloud and access them anywhere through computers, tablets and smartphones with crystal clear displays. Yet despite all the technological advancements that are able to free us from the shackles of printing out documents, the Paperless Office sounds like a mythical unicorn that continues to elude businesses big and small. Fear not, as we have some advice to free yourself from the shackles of paper.
Paper on fire picture from Shutterstock
From an economical and environmental standpoint, getting rid of paper in a workplace makes sense. You'll be saving money on buying the paper itself as well as eradicating the financial burden of buying and maintaining printers, which can be extremely expensive in the long run. On top of this you'll be saving trees from being cut down all because you want to read a 50 page report in a physical form.
But many offices across Australia are addicted to paper and while they may have made efforts to alleviate their reliance on print outs, they're a long way from achieving the paperless nirvana. To lend a helping hand, we have some pointers on how to wean you off paper in the workplace:
Move to online bills and statements
Invoices and bills are just an everyday part of life for organisations and they can add up to a mountain of paperwork. For banking, be sure to let your financial institutions know to send you digital statements instead of hard copy. This is something most banks offer. As for customer invoices, it might be worth providing an incentive for them to manage their accounts online and by email.
For internal accounting, for example, expense claims forms, there are apps out there to help organisations keep track of records without the need to print anything out.
Ditch the meeting presentation printouts
It seems to be a common practice to print out copies of content heavy presentations so people can take notes during meetings. But if you need to print out your PowerPoint presentations just so your colleagues can keep track of what's going on in the meeting, you're doing it wrong. A presentation document should be easy enough to follow without the need of hand outs. There is also plenty of many collaborative and teleconferencing software out there that support screen sharing and notetaking for presentation purposes.
Store and share files online
With the advent of online storage services like Dropbox and Hightail, workers should have no problem sending documents electronically to each other, regardless of file size. Mind you, it's important that your company has the right processes and security in place to prevent the loss of data on third-party storage services.
Make staff accountable for paper usage
Workers often lose track of just how many pieces of paper they print out on a regular basis. A three-page report seems innocent enough but multiply that over a month and the numbers add up. Managers can move to track the amount monthly reports and distributing it among the organisation. Not only will this make staff more mindful about their typing habits, it can also give companies a clear picture of where they can aggressively work to reduce the use of paper.
Make printing inconvenient
When there are multiple printers around the office, employees won't even think twice when pressing 'Print'. Make it less convenient for them to do so by reducing the number of printers around the office.
You can't create a paperless office overnight but these steps will organisations along their journey to reduce their reliance on paper.