The paperless office is a growing trend in 2017. Businesses physically printing work to be reviewed, signed and scanned, cause a significant drain on employee productivity, along with hurting the environment. Fortunately, new software tools are being developed that allow companies to securely manage files online. This means improved efficiency at a lower cost.
At a time when mobile devices with pixel densities indistinguishable from that of print media are commonplace and almost every employee has access to a computer terminal, it’s strange that these haven’t done much to reduce the usage of paper.
Despite anecdotal evidence that the use of paper may finally be on the downtrend, the “paperless office” coined as a marketing slogan in the early days of the IBM computer, has not yet arrived. For proof, just step into the office of any small business.
Completely eliminating paper may not be economical or even practical for everyone. When it comes to eradicating paper, organizations must be realistic. The realities of paper in our society force even start-ups with no legacy processes and habits, or the most tech-savvy businesses, to contend with external forces such as client needs and regulatory or legal requirements. Moreover, because of the historical prevalence of paper, industries such as law and auditing may not be good candidates to go paperless. In addition, doodling or sketching represents a good way for some to flesh out their thoughts. While excellent alternatives have emerged to deliver an experience comparable to that of using a real pen, they may not convince a purist and can be pricey. The point is, if the resulting reduction in paper usage is minimal, there may be situations where it would be unfair and counterproductive to insist on change.
That said, here take a closer look at how you can better equip your employees to work more effectively in a paperless environment. Use these practical strategies for significantly reducing your overall volume of paper usage.
Discourage Paper Usage
- Isn’t this obvious? Simply emphasizing the move toward reducing paper usage is the first step toward reducing it. This can be done in a variety of no- or low-cost initiatives that underscore the seriousness of the paperless drive.
- Reduce the number of printers in your office and make it less convenient to print. By consolidating smaller, low-end machine with printers capable of higher print volumes at a central location, you can be sure that the desk employees are less likely to print frivolously because the printer is not at their desk anymore; this has the added benefit of improving cost effectiveness.
- Generate a monthly report by tracking the number of pages printed per person, and email it to everyone. This will have a psychological effect of shame on the culprits who know they have been printing rather shamelessly. Obviously, this works best if the capability to track printing is already supported by the existing multifunctional machine or printer server.
- An empty box for collecting non-confidential documents for recycling can help, as do email signatures that discourage the unnecessary printing of emails messages. While it’s decidedly low-tech, actively advocating a culture of reuse and recycling can modify prevailing attitudes toward paper usage.
- Make a conscious effort to pay bills online. This improves overall productivity and reduces the use of paper checks and envelopes needed to post them. Request paperless statements from banks and service providers such as the telecommunications company.
- Email your marketing material to existing and potential clients, within your target audience, to raise awareness about the latest products that you have added or new services that you are now providing. This will not only reduce the cost of printing the material, but also has other advantages of e-mail associated with it. There are several email tracking tools that you can use, to find out when a certain person has checked your email. This helps you know that the client must have had a need for your product/service and perhaps you should give a call to your client.
- Build a healthy business relationship with your clients, using emails, phone calls, face to face meetings and technical presentations of your product, instead of depending on flyers and brochures.
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