Did you know that every American uses an average of 700 million pounds of paper per year?
Offices, in particular, produce an excessive amount of paper with an impressive average of 10,000 sheets of paper used per employee per year. What’s worse is that almost half (45%) those printed documents end up in the trash by the end of the day (Record Nations). With so much paper being wasted, you’re probably wondering how you can start saving money and time by going paperless in the office.
Today, the best paperless office solutions are digital. Special thanks to technology, organizations can adopt software that reduces not only the amount of paper they use in the office but the number of misplaced documents, the amount of time wasted searching for said documents, and the space occupied by the cabinets filled with various files and folders.
If you were looking to adopt paperless office software, we’re here to lend you some ideas—here just are a few examples of how operations software can help you take steps toward converting to a paperless office.
Store & share everything in one centralized location.
One survey found that traditional offices, or those who have adopted fewer digital practices, spend an average of six hours per week searching for paper documents (Software Advice). That’s over 300 hours spent searching for paper documents per employee per year!
In contrast, those who adopt document management systems (DMS) spend virtually no time searching for documents, as they can use a simple search function to find what they are looking for. In addition, most DMS can be accessed from any time and anywhere, especially if that system is born out of cloud-based technologies.
Choose a cloud-based document storage system.
One of the greatest disadvantages of a predominantly paper-based office is that the hard copies must be stored in filing cabinets, which are typically stored in one location. In this way, if any member of your team is away from the office, perhaps on a trip for your organization, they will not have access to these documents and a limited ability to work on a remote basis.
With a cloud-based DMS, however, you can access your company’s documents anytime, anywhere. Plus, cloud-based systems are also often accessible across platforms, which means you can view them on your smartphone, laptop, or desktop.
Make scheduling & project management virtual.
While most common technologies, from your smartphone to your laptop, have built-in calendars, paper planners and calendars saw a surprising 10% increase in sales from 2014-2015 to 2015-2016 (NPD Group). This statistic illustrates that companies are continuing to use paper for scheduling and planning projects, even though it may not be the most effective.
By using shared digital calendars, which can often be integrated with your project management or workflow management software, you can reduce the amount of paper produced and tossed when developing schedules. Moreover, you can create a more open system of communication among employees and thereby reduce miscommunications, while improving the overall workflow of your team.
Say goodbye to paper-based meetings.
Recall earlier how we mentioned that almost half of office print-outs are thrown in the trash by the end of the day? Not all but many wasted print-outs are meeting notes, conference call agendas, or other event-related documents.
Rather than printing another agenda that’s going to get tossed, make these documents accessible through a DMS. By uploading the necessary documents to a cloud-based system, your team will be able to access presentations from the cloud, share those documents with meeting attendees through the cloud, and more.
Move employee onboarding from paper to desktop.
While reducing the paper used for meetings may be a simple task, reducing the amount of paper used in other areas may present more of a challenge. For instance, many businesses consider initial onboarding paperwork a necessity, believing they need a hard copy or that paper is more secure.
With onboarding software, however, your new hires will no longer need to fill out physical paperwork to get started or learn the ways of the trade by reading a physical employee handbook. Instead, by having new hires complete onboarding online, you can store their files in a secure, cloud-based system, while also simplifying your ability to track their progress.
Take billing, invoicing, payroll, and more online.
Another area businesses waste an incremental amount of paper is through paper billing, invoices, checks, and other bill-related mailings. Not only do these physical bills and mailings generate a lot of waste, but they require much time, as these documents must be sorted, paid or processed, and filed.
Of course, receiving paperless statements is a step you can take with your bank, but that doesn’t account for customer billing and invoicing, payroll, taxes, and much more. There are many tools available, such as billing and invoicing software, that can be easily integrated with your centralized system for better organization, automation, and more.
Collect forms and signatures digitally.
Perhaps when we mentioned taking onboarding from paper to desktop, you wondered how you would collect the signatures of new employees. If so, you’re not alone: Even businesses that are almost entirely paperless often struggle when it comes to legal documents.
Signatures produced with ink have long been deemed legally more reliable than their digital counterpart, the e-signature. With this in mind, Randy Dazo, group director at InfoTrends, notes, “Companies use paper as part of their workflow and transactions for legal processes and compliance with internal and external standards....[But] paper is the lowest common denominator to capture and store this information” (CIO).
Instead of printing, signing, and scanning a document with handwritten signatures, you can integrate an e-signature app with your main system. That way, you’ll not only reduce the amount of paper printed, signed, and filed, but you’ll accelerate your team’s workflow and reduce the space needed for storing documents signed by clients, employees, and more.
What’s the Best Way to Go Paperless? Go Custom!
One of the main reasons people struggle to make the move away from paper and go fully digital is that they are afraid technology will further complicate their existing processes. This ideology stems from the fact that off-the-shelf software often requires businesses to adjust their processes, rather than supplement and improve their existing processes.
Custom software, however, is tailor-made to meet your needs. Not sure if going custom is right for you? In order to determine if your paperless office strategy would benefit from custom software, take a look at our post When You Need Custom Software for Your Business.
Ready to start now? Make going paperless in the office easy—contact us.