There are a lot of benefits to having a paperless office or business. These can include:
- When you go paperless, it saves time. Your employees aren’t spending their time searching for and organizing paper documents, and instead, they can focus on more strategic tasks. Everyone can access a central repository for documents quickly and easily, and then, with the extra time they have, do tasks that generate revenue.
- Paperless offices need less space. You may even find that you could potentially downsize to a cheaper space if you go paperless. Take a look around your office and see how much space you currently have dedicated to paper, including file cabinets, shelves, and drawers.
- You’ll save money. You’ll pay for fewer resources if you have a paperless office.
- You’re going to be more efficient overall without dealing with paper documents.
- You can be more eco-friendly and reduce your environmental impact when you don’t use paper. You’re not just keeping paper from ending up in the landfill. You’re also reducing your use of things like ink and toners that have volatile compounds and materials that damage the environment.
- You can be a more secure office. You don’t have to worry about documents being lost, destroyed, or even taken.
With those benefits in mind, how can you transform into a paperless business?
Automate Your Workflows
There are software tools you can use, such as AP automation platforms, that will allow you to automate your workflows and reduce the need for paper documents. AP software in particular is a good example because your invoice process can become touchless.
This helps you not only work toward your goal of being a paperless office, but it also helps improve your employee productivity and reduce human errors.
Your employees, when you automate workflows, are able to focus on high-level tasks rather than repetitive administrative work.
Another place where you can go electric and use automation is payroll processing.
Before you start choosing platforms that will allow you to automate your workflows, it’s a good idea to do a thorough audit and see where you need to start.
Take on your piles of paperwork, organize them, and identify your priorities as you move toward being paperless.
Use Google Apps
While the more complex workflow management may require software and automation, there are also simpler technology tools that you can use as part of your goal of going paperless.
Google Apps are an excellent option.
You can collaborate via Google Docs, for example.
That not only makes it easier to work together, but you’re cutting down your need for paper documents.
You can share files through Google Drive and use Google Mail for communication internally and externally.
If you don’t want to use Google’s applications for any reason, there are other options. For example, Basecamp lets you collaborate and share documents, although two people can’t edit a document at the same time as they can with Google.
If you need to store and move very large files, you can use Dropbox or something like YouSendIt.
Paperless Bill and Statements
Your business should move to paperless bills and statements. It actually also makes it easier to track your payments too.
Your business bank might offer you a discount if you switch to paperless statements.
For your customers, rather than printing their receipts, email them.
If you have to hand things out to your employees during meetings or training, you can digitize that as well.
One tool that can help is called TeamViewer, and your employees can have remote access to office computers any time through their smartphone or home computer. You can also share files, videos, and whiteboards.
When you digitize your meeting handouts and content, then your employees can have access to it after the meeting ends, which is helpful.
Go Digital with Your Marketing
If you’re still using paper-based marketing materials, such as mailers or printed flyers, now could be the time to stop. Not only is this kind of advertising relatively ineffective at this point, but it’s more expensive than digital marketing.
Work toward a more comprehensive digital marketing strategy using inexpensive and paperless solutions like social media and blogging on your business website.
You can also cut down on how much junk mail gets sent to your business. You can use the website DirectMail that lets you sign up for a National Do Not Mail List. Include your business address on the form that you’re asked to fill out.
Faxing and Scanning
Despite the fact that we have so many digital solutions available, a lot of businesses still use faxing and scanning.
You can use your camera as a scanner, and then that allows you to quickly capture documents, turn them into images and then convert those into PDFs so you can email instead of faxing.
Involve Your Employees
Going paperless is a big undertaking. You need your customers to be on board, and you need them to be accountable for their own contributions to being a paperless office.
It can be a lot for employees to take on because they’re going to have to learn to use new software and systems.
You can provide training and development on any new technology you use, and you should also encourage your employees to provide feedback as you make the transition.
You don’t need to do the full transition overnight. Do it gradually. Set goals for your business—like a 10% reduction in the first month and then go from there.
Make sure your employees know the benefits of going paperless and the positive impacts it will have on their day-to-day work. For example, in a paperless office with automation, there’s less busy work and less room for error.
Once you do transition to being a paperless office, you’re likely to see that your entire organization becomes more productive and efficient. You’re going to be spending time on creating strategies to meet larger business objectives instead of on busywork.