Personal Small Business Enterprise

Go Paperless, Be More Productive

We often equate large volumes of paper to stress, disorganization and clutter – which makes a good case for going paperless on its own. But there are many more reasons to jump on the paperless bandwagon.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average office worker uses 10,000 pieces of paper per year. The Paperless Project, a grassroots coalition of companies aimed at reducing paper use among businesses, reports that approximately 15 per cent of a typical company’s revenues are spent managing, distributing and creating documents; and the average document is printed five times and copied nine to eleven times.

Some of the many disadvantages associated with using too much paper include:

Paper takes up too much space. You need to find space to store, file and organize paper; and the more you keep on file, the more it piles up.

Paper takes up valuable employee time. In order to keep paper files organized, you need diligent and detail-oriented employees to dedicate time and resources to doing the filing. And this means they either aren’t spending time on more important tasks, or that you may have to hire another body to keep on top of the mounds of physical documents.

Paper adds expenses. It’s not just the price of paper and ink itself, but also cabinets, file folders and labels to go with them. A standard file cabinet with four drawers occupies about nine square feet of space and costs $1,500/yr., reports the coalition. The cost of a misfiled document? $125. A lost one? That’s a cool $350-$700.

Sensitive documents on paper can be more vulnerable. In many cases, it’s a lot easier to steal a paper document than it is a digital file, and it’s also easier for paper documents to be toast in the event of a disaster like a fire or flood. According to The Paperless Project, more than 70 per cent of today’s businesses would outright fail in less than a month’s time if they lost important records in such a disaster.

Tips for Going Paperless
Going paperless doesn’t have to literally mean eliminating 100 per cent of the crisp, white sheets from your office space. But to experience all of the benefits associated with going paperless, you should strive to reduce the amount of paper you use on a day-to-day basis.

There are a number of ways to reduce the amount of paper used in your business, including:

Issuing e-receipts. Rather than printing a receipt for a customer, consider giving them the option to receive an e-mail receipt instead, which eliminates paper use on both ends of the equation.

Using note-taking apps. Today’s classrooms are filled with kids tapping away on lightweight laptops instead of furiously jotting down notes with a pen and paper. This same method can work for business. While a standard Word doc or Notes app can suffice, there are plenty of note-taking apps that can be used to enhance the process, and even programs that can convert handwritten notes on a tablet into digital text.

Implementing cloud-based collaboration tools. Rather than printing copies of a document to share with the team, consider sharing the document electronically by using a cloud-based service like Microsoft Office 365, then let everyone weigh in, leave notes and make edits accordingly.

Using online invoicing & accounting. Further to e-receipts, ask your clients if they would accept or prefer online invoices. Not only will this reduce paper count, but it will also reduce your mailing costs and potentially help speed up the payment process. Bell, for example, recently launched an enhanced self-serve online billing interface, allowing its small business customers to easily choose if they wish to go that route instead of having paper bills sent to their business each month.

Implementing innovative printing hardware. Look for eco-friendly printers and invest in a full-sized or portable document scanner to turn paper files you might have on hand now into digital versions, or to digitize physical documents that need to be shared instead of copying them.

The bottom line
We haven’t quite reached a time when a fully-paperless office is viable. There are still documents that need to be printed and kept on paper, for legal or regulatory reasons. And sometimes certain things are just more impactful in print. (The traditional newspaper and magazine, after all, is still a preferred experience for some.)

But there are plenty of ways to go perhaps not fully paper-less, but paper-smart. And they can not only save your business money and reduce clutter, but also help boost productivity and efficiency levels all around.

Do you have tips to go paperless? Let us know in the comments section below.

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