How much paper are you using each day in your office? According to the EPA, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year. It’s no wonder that many offices are exploring how to go paperless. But where do you start? You need a plan to organize the paperwork in your office and a strategy to set and achieve your paperless goals. Here are this NYC Professional Office Organizer’s steps to create a paperless office.
Step 1: Discourage the use of paper in your office.
Turning your office into a paperless office overnight is impossible. Instead, you can take smaller steps immediately to encourage going paperless in your office. Start by discouraging excessive printing. Immediately remove extra printers, making it less convenient, and set printers to default to double-sided to save paper. Request paperless statements from banks, office utilities, and service providers. Make it easy to recycle within your office – have collection boxes easy to access and encourage your coworkers and employees to reuse and recycle anything that isn’t confidential.
Step 2: Recreate policies and procedures that involve paperwork.
Think about how your office handles signatures, contracts, invoices, and other paperwork. When it comes to reports that are often printed and shared, create a new policy that has reports generated as PDFs so that they can be shared and read on your computer or tablet. Another procedure that can change is how you collect signatures. The US law allows for digital signatures to be just as binding as physical signatures, so save the paper and create a policy for digitally signing documents. When working with coworkers and employees and sharing information, try working in the cloud. You can use Google Drive or Dropbox to share documents, image files, and more, and can easily collaborate and work together online.
Step 3: Have a system for organizing digital documents.
One reason people print documents is because it’s hard to reference multiple files on the computer while working. Try going to a dual-monitor set-up in your office. This allows your employees more space to view essential documents without needing to print them. You also need to plan how you will organize your digital files. Consider using services like Amazon S3 to store documents, or an external hard drive. If you use your computer or a hard drive, make sure you are also backing up your files so that nothing is lost in case your computer crashes! When organizing the digital files, stick with a naming system that is consistent with how you do business. When it comes to bringing your current files into the digital space, start with your active files. Because these are often used and ever-changing, it’s important to have those easily accessible first. Once you’ve scanned those in, you can selectively choose how to handle those files that are not currently being used. And remember, not every business you work with will be paperless, so having systems in place to accommodate is helpful. Check out TurboScan as a digital scanning option, and eFax.com as a simple fax solution.
Step 4: Monitor and follow-up.
It’s important to continually monitor your shift into a paperless office. Create a team to oversee the project, and set goals and deadlines that are easy to track and achieve. Educating team members on the importance and reasoning behind going paperless may be necessary. Embracing technology and changing long-standing systems often requires a change of attitude that might not happen right away. Provide incentives to your office as goals are met and you see positive change.
Remember that going paperless doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It might be impossible to completely eliminate paper based on your area of business. Client needs and legal requirements may stipulate hard copies, and that’s okay, too. You can still apply these tips and limit your paper footprint. For more tips and strategies to organize paperwork in your office, reach out to this NYC Professional Office Organizer.