The Paperless Office

At 12five we operate a paperless office.  No file cabinets, no printers, no inter office mail.  Will the corporate concept of a paperless office ever be a widespread reality?  For years now it seems that this elusive dream should have materialized in office spaces and cubicles of businesses worldwide.  As the technical world continues to advance at lightspeed, pixels get sharper and iPhone updates more frequent than heartbeats, one would think that paper and all of its bearings would be a thing of a past.  Yet, millions of trees are sacrificed every day.  Paper serves as a hard copy and security blanket backup. In a world of clouds, Google Drives and flash drives, paper just will not go away.

Are you ready to go paperless?

In order to address such a drastic change, knowing the scope of your business needs is vital.  Many processes must go into place before transitioning into a paperless office.  Is there a genuine business need to be dependent on paper?  Is paper truly the ultimate source of communicating for your staff, clients, associates and colleagues?  Is digital communication not enough?  Is going paperless economically sound?  Let’s piggyback to the question about staffing needs.  Switching the direction from paper to all-digital could also mean addressing the skillset of your staff.  Some employees are more tech-savvy than others who have been dependent on paper for most of their professional lives.   This will invoke training needs and training costs for your company.  These are important factors that can alter the decision to go paperless.

Save A Tree – Prohibit the Use of Paper

Use your authority, use your voice.  Direction comes from the head and it flows down to the infrastructure.  If paperless is indeed the goal, communicate that to all employees.  Consider developing a presentation of the benefits of going paperless.  Stress things that would be important to your team, e.g. convenience, cost, protecting the environment.  Encourage them!  Put a cap on paper quantities.  Gradual elimination would be helpful.  Meetings, emails and communication encouraging the “movement” and team building will create a lifting resonance that will move the use of paper out of the office without creating the “screeching halt” effect.

Get Rid of the Paper Machines

Trade it all! Printers, all-in-one’s, and fax machines are really unnecessary.  If you insist on having a security blanket, a scanner is all you really need.  Consider using a paper shredder or incorporate the use of a paper shredding company/vendor.  Get rid of the paper parasites too e.g. staplers, paper clips, staples.  You won’t need them anymore.

Instead of these, use storage and sync services like Google Drive, Cloud storage and flash drives.  Again if back up image copying and sharing is absolutely mandatory, keep scanners in your office for those who absolutely won’t give.

Introduce the use of dual monitors to heavy paper users.  This will reduce excessive printing from employees who have to combine and cross-reference documents and use multiple databases. 

Goodbye Mr. Postman

Most businesses and corporations give consumers and recipients the option to receive mail online.  Still, this can be a gray area.  Some people appreciate the sense of urgency and the reminder to pay, send or sign something in the form of paper.  It is important in any paperless system to incorporate digital methods for recording to-do lists and the information that goes along with them.  It might make sense to outlaw all paper mail.  This will eliminate the clutter and buildup and also cut out costs for postage.  This also includes doing away with Inter-Office mail and those pesky brown tie-up envelopes. For those employees who aren't avid email readers, this will force them to take control of their Inbox.

Online Faxing

Some business would like to remain archaic, and that is fine because their goal is not to become paperless.  True to form, the facsimile has been a stand-by form of paper-laden communication forever, but how often are YOU using it?  The only reason you may have a fax machine is because you may have a contact who insists on using it.  To ensure that your paperless goals are not affected by this use online fax services like MyFax, Hello Fax, eFax and Metro Fax. They are at your fingertips on your desktop and they are cost-effective without the paper use.

At 12five we are committed to remaining paperless.  This allows for less clutter and waste and allows our clients and employees freedom to access information wherever they may be.  We depend on cloud based storage and many other niche software to fill the gaps from eliminating paper.  We challenge you to do the same!

Liz WhittenComment