According to The Paperless Project, paper in the average business grows by 22% a year. This means that the amount of paper used in your office will double in 3.3 years if you don’t take steps to start curbing your paper usage right away. 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 suggestions for decreasing your office paper usage and moving towards a digital, paper-free workplace.
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 to print, 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.
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 to promptly introduce is e-signing documents. The US law allows for digital signatures to be just as binding as physical signatures. While this may be appropriate for the majority of documents, there could be some that still require an actual signature. This should be noted in the new procedure. When sharing information with coworkers and staff, work in the cloud if you aren’t already doing so. Google Drive or Dropbox are good options for sharing documents, image files, and more, and can easily collaborate and work together online.
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 having to print them. A system for organizing your digital files is essential. 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 them is a must. Check out TurboScan as a digital scanning option, and eFax.com as a simple fax solution.
Monitor and Follow-Up With Your New Plan
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 eliminate paper completely based on your type of business. Client needs and legal requirements may stipulate hard copies. 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.