From deforestation to overflowing landfills, and even the energy that goes into producing it, paper is undoubtedly a major problem for the environment. When you consider that the US alone uses approximately 68 million trees each year for paper-based products, the sheer scale of the issue starts to become clear. Reducing global paper consumption is crucial, and businesses in particular have a responsibility to cut back.
Thanks to technology, finding digital alternatives to paper is easier than ever, and the benefits are not only environmental. Given that US companies spend over $120 billion a year on printed forms – not to mention the time wasted looking for lost documents – your company finances and efficiency stand to benefit too. Implementing a paperless office may seem like too huge a challenge worth considering, but it’s an essential step towards a more environmentally conscious business. Here are just a few ways in which you can make it happen.
Digitize your existing documents
The first step for transitioning to a paper-free office is to digitize your existing documents. With the help of a scanner, you can make digital copies of any paper file, gradually reducing the need for physical storage space. There are several different options when it comes to choosing a scanner, from the portable Doxie Go that can easily be carried around a larger office, to the Fujitsu ScanSnap models that enable you to convert text documents into searchable PDFs as well as scan to iOS and Android devices. Once you have all your papers in digital format, you can start recycling your hard copies and free up some office space.
Leverage the power of the Cloud
When moving away from paper in favor of a digital model, it’s necessary to find a virtual storage solution that works for you. As this article points out whichever storage media you choose, ensuring you have sufficient space for both existing and future documents is essential. In addition to saving all documents on a server, you will need to have a reliable backup plan in place; consider cloud-based solutions such as Dropbox or Evernote. Aside from being better for the environment, moving to virtual storage space means that documents can be accessed from anywhere – significantly streamlining all operations.
Opt for paperless processes
Finally, it’s important to find paperless ways of carrying out your business processes. When it comes to paying company bills, for example, or invoicing clients, consider adopting an electronic approach – services such as PayPal and FreshBooks enable you to do this digitally yet professionally. Likewise, setting up a digital signature means you no longer need to print a document in order to sign it – saving time whilst making that all-important cutback on paper. Taking every opportunity to replace outdated practices with electronic alternatives will not only ensure your business is eco-friendly, but will greatly improve efficiency for that competitive edge.