By Pem Guerry
Despite the push for paperless business operations, the average office worker still uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year, according to the Paperless Project. Regardless of the good reasons to print something—meeting agendas, research notes, business reports, rough drafts or anything else—45% of all that paper winds up in the trash can by the end of the day.
Thankfully, paperless offices are gaining traction and becoming more feasible than ever before. And there are multiple benefits for companies of all sizes, including:
- Reducing staffing costs
- Becoming more environmentally friendly
- Increasing productivity
- Decreasing costs spent on printing, copying, filing, sending and storing documents
- Facilitating quicker communication with your customers
- Enabling faster transactions
All of those things combine to have a huge positive impact on your bottom line.
If paper has always been part of your business, as it has for most companies, you might be wondering where to even begin. Here are five habits of highly effective paper purgers:
1. Adjust your own paper habits first
Going paperless on a smaller scale will help you make the transition to digital when it’s time to purge the office. So start with your own files. Knowing what to upload, keep or throw away will help prepare you for what’s involved when it’s rolled out to the whole company. It will also help your team to see it being practiced so they will both recognize the benefits and have quicker buy-in when it’s implemented broadly.
2. Make “digital” part of your networking conversations
Need inspiration for going paperless? Talk to other business leaders or people in your network who have made the switch to a digital environment to find out what worked for them. Discuss apps and software that are making their lives easier and consider what you can learn from their digital wins and losses.
3. Improve internal digital systems
Before your whole office goes paperless, be sure that your company’s digital infrastructure is prepared to handle the increased demand. It’s important to have a strong, secure and reliable network, as well as portable devices, so that employees can efficiently access digital files. To prevent security breaches, set up authentication protocols that must be met before accessing the network. And for added convenience, consider moving files to the cloud so they can be accessed from anywhere.
4. Redesign certain business processes
Habits may be hard to break, but certain business processes will need to be changed. From direct deposits to platforms for online document sharing, project management or customer service, everything is moving to the cyber world. And that includes signing documents. With digital signatures, forms and contracts can be created, modified and signed electronically without the risk of becoming outdated or unusable.
As with anything else in the digital space, it will be important to investigate the security and compliance of any software, whether it’s on-premise or cloud-based. The good news is that there are many options that ensure digital documents will be even more secure than their paper counterparts—giving you peace of mind that your company’s and your customers’ information is safe.
5. Involve the whole company in the process
Going paperless may seem like a daunting process, but it doesn’t have to happen overnight. Take time to develop a plan for your company’s digital transition and break it down into manageable steps. Figure out the areas that will be most easily transitioned, and start there. Educate employees so they understand what’s involved in making the transition, what security protocols are involved and how it will benefit them in the long run. Appoint people to coordinate and advise throughout the process to ensure any challenges are quickly addressed. Going paperless is a team effort, so it’s important to get the company on board.
By transitioning to a paperless office, your company can reduce inefficiencies by up to 30 percent—making a huge impact on your bottom line—and putting your company one step closer to achieving a truly paperless office.
Pem Guerry is Executive Vice President of SIGNiX, the first independently verifiable, cloud-based digital signature solution in the U.S., which combines workflow convenience with superior security. Learn more about what makes SIGNiX different at www.signix.com.