Wednesday 26th October 2016                 Change text size:

Six steps for a paper-free office


We now live in an age where every worker will have a computer at their work desk and a smartphone that they use to make their job easier. That means that it is easier than ever do without paper in the office.

There are lots of good reasons to go for a paper-free office too – firstly it will save you physical storage space that can be used for more practical purposes by your staff. It can also save you money on the cost of paper for printing. Additionally it’s far easier to manage digital files and documents than large cabinets filled with paper. That’s before we even get on to the benefits for the environment. So here are six steps to a paper-free office.

1. Discourage paper use by employees

If you are serious about a paper-free office then there needs to be a cultural change within the business. It’s up to management to take the lead on this and find ways to discourage paper usage on the whole. This can achieved by putting structure in place that make it more difficult to use paper and easier to get on without it. For example, you could make it less convenient to print by reducing the number of printers in the office. When printing is less convenient staff will begin to phase it out of their normal routine.

Management also need to take the lead by showing staff that they can work without paper. The culture cannot change if the people at the top do not practice what they preach.

2. Take control of internal documents

Of course your business with naturally work with other companies who may prefer to deal with paper documents, so it can be very challenging to be an entirely paper-free operation. But that means you need to focus on the aspects that you can actually deal with yourself. You have complete control of your internal documents, so ensure that they are never based on paper. Internal documents can be created using Google Docs or other cloud-based systems that everyone can access. There is no need to keep hard copies of process documents or contracts if they are all available on the computer.

Move your own systems away from paper-based systems such as fax or generating printed reports. Remember that everyone in your office will have access to a computer or screen, so there shouldn’t be a need for paper.

You can also request that your bank sends you paperless invoices and any other businesses you work with that send you invoices or bill use a digital format rather than putting it in the post. Some suppliers or clients may be unwilling to do this, but many are more than happy to do so.

3. Go to dual monitors

Consider why it is that most people print out using paper. Often it is to do with cross referencing something on their computer with another document. This is a good reason to move on from single-screen workstations to dual monitors. Having two monitors for each employee means that workers can easily cross reference documents without having to print them out.

This might seem like a costly outlay simply to reduce paper usage, but dual monitors are useful for much more too. Being able to have a screen open for work and another for relevant information. Having two monitors can massively improve productivity in the office. So this is a double win for your business.

4. Scan, scan, scan

It’s a brilliant idea to get into the habit of scanning every physical document so that you don’t actually need to keep hold of any hard copies. Remember that once you’ve got a scanned copy of anything you can always re-print it if necessary.

5. Ban printouts for meetings

One of the biggest wastes of paper occurs due to large printouts in meetings. Many businesses assist on providing full copies of agendas or other documents to everyone who attends a meeting. These printouts are often glanced at once and then later put in the bin. Printouts for meetings should be banned – the vast majority of meeting spaces have computer screens that can be used to display any visual aids

6. Make recycling easy

Recycling can make a big difference to your office. Not only is it doing a good thing for the environment, but it can also show your staff exactly how much paper gets wasted. When people see that paper is being used for no real reason it can encourage them to avoid it.

Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the business and marketing sector. For the information in this post, staff scheduling specialist Planday were consulted.


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