How to Achieve a Paperless Office

Achieving a paperless office is a great way to go green for the New Year. Going paperless reduces the carbon footprint for your office, saves money, increases efficiency and promotes sound data organization. Here are some ideas and tips that are easy to implement and are zero cost.

Request Electronic Files from Vendors: Paper documents that are usually received by external entities such as vendors can be scanned and saved as a PDF file on your computer system. However, why not eliminate this process altogether and ask that vendors send all information electronically. If there is a high volume or size of information that needs to be distributed, consider using an online cloud based system to transfer documents such as Google Drive or DropBox.

Replace a Fax Machine with a Cloud Service: Many online services can be used that can convert a standard fax to a PDF document to store online or sent to your office via email. This is a great way for your office to have a real fax number but not need a dedicated fax machine. The use of a cloud service for receiving faxes eliminates the need to print out a fax on paper.

Print or Save Documents as a PDF: Documents that are obtained online or created as a text document or even a spreadsheet can be saved as a PDF file instead of a printed document. Often multiple formats that need to be consolidated into one document can be done through PDF. Simply convert each document into a PDF, and through the PDF tool, combine those documents into one PDF. This eliminates the need to print each document out only to re-scan it as one document.

Organize Your Shared Drive: One of the barriers for many employees becoming paperless is that they aren’t sure where the data is located electronically. Shared drives, as well as local drives, are a mess and users find it difficult to find and access electronic information quickly and therefore print documents for easy access. Take time and get your shared drive organized. If you need help, download the guide “How to Organize Electronic Documents for Shared Drive Networks”

If you are interested in achieving a paperless office, then contact us for more information.

Going Paperless Reduces Carbon Footprint

For most small and medium sized businesses reducing paper consumption can significantly reduce an organizations carbon footprint. As companies of all sizes realize the constraints that paper places on their businesses, they are exploring the many advantages offered by a paperless office, as identified in the article, Becoming a Paperless Office.

Even though the principles of a paperless company are beneficial, it can be challenging to leave behind a data format on which your business has always relied. Here are just a few easy tips that can start your business to reduce and recycle paper;

Use both sides of the paper. You can set your printer default to print both sides, make double-sided copies, and use the backs of single-sided documents that have served their purpose.

Think before you print. Double check print/copy properties before you print, only print the necessary pages, and share documents whenever possible.

Put forms, newsletters, articles and any other applicable documents online. Your management, employees and customers will have immediate access to what they need. 

Recycle, recycle, recycle. If your company does not yet have a recycling program, get one started. If you have one, make sure you employees know how to properly use it. Be sure to use post-consumer recycled paper whenever possible.

Going completely paperless is a commitment that will take your company time to fully implement. A first step is getting better organized electronically Then, start by improving overall automation of processes. As identified by the numbers, if every business made improvements it would make a significant impact to climate change.

Junk Mail: Get Yourself Off Mailing Lists

Junk mail isn’t just a menace at home, it’s making its way into offices too. Not only is junk mail annoying and time consuming to go through, it needlessly uses significant amounts natural resources. Every year U.S. junk mail uses paper from over 100 million trees, fills over 420,000 garbage trucks and produces 51 million tons of greenhouse gases. There are few ways that you can get off mailing lists to reduce the paper overflow.

  1. Contact the company directly and ask to be removed from their list. You can go to the ‘contact us’ page on most websites to get a direct email address.
  2. Contact Direct Marketing Association and request your name and organization be removed from their lists.

Can Cloud Computing Help Global Warming?

That is what Rob Bernard, the chief environmental strategist for Microsoft, is projecting in his latest article in Sustainable Industries. Microsoft recently commissioned a study with Accenture to analyze the energy and greenhouse gas use for cloud-hosted systems such as Microsoft versus on their own hosted systems.

The study found that organizations could save energy and carbon by switching to the cloud. It found the smaller the organization, the larger the benefit.  The study predicted an effective carbon footprint reduction of up to 90 percent over using local servers for smaller organizations (less than 100 people). For large corporations, the predicted savings were typically 30 percent or more. This is a pretty remarkable carbon and energy savings for smaller businesses.

In addition, cloud computing services can generally save companies money. It ranges from 25-50% savings in your IT costs. PC Computing has a nice article, 13 Terrific Cloud Services for Small Businesses, which provides an overview of companies that offer cloud based computing for small companies.

A Simple Switch to Recycled Paper offers Significant Environmental Savings

A simple switch from regular paper to recycled paper can be a big savings for the environment.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, a ton of recycled paper saves over 7000 gallons of water, 17-31 trees, 4,000 KWh of electricity, 60 pounds of air pollutants.

With the average office worker using over 10,000 sheets of paper per year or 700 pounds, this adds up to a lot of water, trees, electricity and pollution saved.

Although regular paper is cheaper than recycled paper, it is not by much. The average cost of a single paper ream is $5 whereas a recycled ream is averaging around $7.

For more information on the cost of managing paper, read my article, “The Cost of Managing Paper: A Great Incentive to go Paperless”, published by Inform IT.