With the average person using over 700 pounds of paper every year, it’s no wonder why businesses are trying their best to use less paper every day, with the aim of eventually going paperless.
Not only is going paperless better for the environment, but it can also save you thousands of dollar every year.
Going paperless is simply the way forward, but how do you do it?
Most businesses want to reduce paper use, but they don’t know how. That’s why we’ve put together ten actionable tips that will help you go paperless with ease:
1. Set Paper-Saving Goals for Everyone
A fundamental struggle in going paperless is trying to get started. If you spoke to each employee in your company, they’d probably all agree that going paperless is the best thing to do. But, they aren’t going to start unless they’re told to do so.
This is where you need to be an effective leader and come up with plans and policies to implement in your business.
The easiest approach is to come up with a set of goals and targets for everyone to reach. Every department needs to hit these goals in a specific timeframe.
It gives your team something to work towards, which increases their chances of using less paper. Gradually, you need to alter the targets to the point where absolutely no paper is being used in your business.
2. Go Digital with Document Management
It sounds simple, but the best way to go paperless is to adopt a digital approach to document management. There are loads of pieces of software out there like Eversign, that help you store and manage documents with ease.
Everything can be accessed by secure passwords, and most of the data is stored in the cloud.
As a result, you can get to it from different devices, offering a more convenient method of document management too.
If you’re still using file cabinets to store all your documents, it’s time for an upgrade.
3. Organize Your Existing Paper Documents
Even if you start putting new client information in your digital database, you’ll still have paper documents lying around from previous clients.
So, you have to start organizing all of this into different piles. Get it all neatly lined up and ready for the most challenging task yet; copying the information across to the digital platform.
Of all the things on this list, this is the most time-consuming. The good news is, you don’t have to physically type up all the information.
Instead, you can scan documents and save them to your new data management system. Once this is done, you can get rid of all the paper originals, making your business free from any paper.
And if you don’t want to spend the time doing all the scanning yourself, there are plenty of document scanning services that can help.
4. Send Emails Instead of Letters
As a business, you may send out various letters from time to time.
Sometimes, these are important letters that your customers need to receive. It could be a notice of outstanding payments or some information about changes in your company. Either way, all of your letters need to become emails.
Send people information digitally, and you’ll stop using so much paper. Even if it needs to be signed, you can get an electronic signature instead of wasting paper.
It doesn’t stop there, all of your marketing material needs to be paperless as well. There’s no need for leaflets or brochures, create an email marketing list instead. Then, you can send out marketing material via email, instead of creating paper products that will probably end up in the bin anyway.
5. Switch to Electronic Payroll & Invoicing
When you think about paper waste, you tend to think about actual sheets of paper more than anything else. But, what about all the checks and invoices your business generates as well?
If you still send out paper checks to pay your team, then you’re living in the past. Likewise, you need to avoid sending out physical invoices to clients as well. Both of these things account for a huge chunk of paper use in your business.
Instead, use an electronic payroll method. There are plenty of accounting software available to use for businesses today. With these, all of your invoices are created online and sent out digitally.
Everyone you pay is paid digitally too, which means there are no checks, no invoice receipts; nothing.
6. Switch to Digital Bank Statements
On the topic of money, you need to get in contact with your bank. Every month, you get letters through the mail that tell you your business bank statements. Not only do these clutter up your office, but they use up so much paper.
The bad thing is, it’s so painfully easy to stop getting these statements.
All you have to do is contact your bank and tell them you want to switch to digital statements.
These days, a lot of banks are starting to do this automatically anyway. But, if you're still getting paper ones, then switch things up right away to save loads of paper.
7. Use Apps to Share Things Amongst Your Team
What happens when your employees are working on a project and might want someone else from another department to see it? Often, they print out the work they’ve done, and take it to the person in question. Or worse, they fax it over to them.
Things like this are totally unnecessary today. You have no need to physically share things when it can all be done digitally through the cloud.
There are tons of apps like Google Drive and Dropbox you can use that let you share documents and other files with members of your team.
You can even work on them together, at the same time, from different locations.
This also throws up another great point; having multiple copies of the same thing.
If a team is working on something, then each member may have physical copies of all the documents that form their project.
When you use apps to create the projects, you have one version that can be shared with as many people as possible—but without using up any paper.
8. Make It Harder to Print Things
There are probably multiple printers in your office, and you’re watching each one carefully to ensure it doesn’t kick into action.
Unfortunately, everyone is guilty of printing things just out of habit. Or, they feel like they need a physical copy of something, so they print it out.
To reduce the amount of printing that happens in your business, you need to make it harder for someone to print things.
This starts by getting rid of all but one printer—there’s no need for the rest if you’re trying to go paperless. Ideally, you want to get to a stage where there are no printers, but you need at least one during the transition.
Then, you should put rules in place that make printing something people consider as a last resort. For example, set a printing fee for your office. If someone wants to print something, then they have to pay a fee.
This money can be saved up and used to go towards the Christmas party, or sent to charity— whatever you like. The point is, people will be less inclined to print out documents when they know there’s a charge.
9. Start Using Digital Signatures
Most businesses have the same issue when they try and go paperless. No matter how hard they try, there’s always one thing that stands in their way; signatures.
When a signature is needed by you or a client, it’s easy to think the only option is to give in and send out a paper document.
On the contrary, there’s a simple way around this. You can use digital signatures that provide a secure way for people to sign documents online.
Then, all you have to do is send the contract via an email, or share it through a secure folder in the cloud. It’ll be signed digitally, and there’s no paper in sight.
10. Provide Incentives
Finally, your business will start going paperless much faster when everyone is eager to participate.
If half your employees aren’t trying, and are doing the bare minimum, then it can be hard to reach the goals you set way back in tip number one. Therefore, you have to give them a reason to go paperless!
Provide incentives and rewards for employees that are doing the most to minimize paper usage in your company. This creates friendly competition between members of staff as everyone fights to become the most eco-friendly employee of the month.
The incentives you provide could be anything; gift vouchers for restaurants, an extra couple of vacation days; whatever springs to your mind.
Going Paperless Is Easier Than You Think
Contrary to what you may think, it’s not hard to go paperless. Use the tips in this guide to help you make the switch and wave goodbye to paper. As a result, you’ll become a much greener and more eco-friendly organization.