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10 tips for a paperless office

Picture of Maren Hedrich

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Do you know how much your business depends on paper?

ThePaperLessProject.com states that 70% of today’s companies would fail within 3 weeks if they lose their paper documents due to a fire or flood.

Looking at the numbers, the extent of our reliance on paper becomes even clearer:

 

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We think it is time to break free from the paper dependency!

More and more companies seeking new ways to decrease their environmental footprint and start initiatives to discourage paper usage in the office.

As our product, cloud-based visitor management software, replaces paper forms at the front desk, we realized that we assist our clients in using less paper.

But there are other ways which can also reduce the amount of paper being used in your office. We have dug a little deeper into the subject and come up with 10 additional tips for a paperless office:

1. Snapshot of current situation

As always, the first step to change is awareness. Document your current paper consumption, how much paper is used per month? For what purposes? Think about: mailings, marketing material, printing, office supplies, packaging etc.

Seeing the actual numbers will not only help to identify problem areas and help develop new practices, but it also serves as a motivator for the entire team. Don’t forget to track the progress regularly and celebrate your achievements.

 

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Useful tool: A Paper savings calculator from Instanet Solutions

2. Discourage Printing

Discourage printing by making it more inconvenient. Instead of having several printers spread over different floors, keep the amount of printers to the absolute minimum (same can be done with paper and toners as well).

Locate the printers as far away as possible so that everybody who wants to print also needs to take a little walk. 

3. Reuse/recycle paper 

Reuse one-side printed for notes, old packaging for shipments and recycle your waste. Buy environmental-friendly printing paper, which is made out of recycled paper.

4. Replace paper with alternatives 

Do you use paper towels in the kitchen or the bathroom? Replace them with towels that can be reused and washed. Get rid of the paper cups, you will notice that coffee or tea tastes better if drunk from a real mug.

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5. Adjust print and software default settings

Adjust the default settings of all office computers. E.g. change the default print settings to automatically print PDF or to double-sided printing. The default settings for Word can be changed to a smaller font type and size as well as margins can be altered to use less paper overall.

6. Use electronic signature software

What about eliminating the entire process of printing, signing and scanning documents before sending them back? With the help of electronic signature software, you’ll not only save paper but also time. 

 

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HelloSign is one of the softwares that allows eSignature integration

 

If you’ve ever wonder about the legal value of the electronic signature we wrote an entire blog post on the subject (to the article).

7. Paperless internal communication

Internal communication processes such as project or task management, collaboration and exchange of information, or resource allocation, can all function without relying on paper. Here are some examples of tools you could use, most of them we use ourselves:

8. Paperless marketing


“More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail.
Approximately 44% of this mail goes into a landfill unopened.”

41pounds.org, an organization working to eliminate junk mail states further that “An average of 41 pounds of junk mail is sent to every adult citizen each year.”

 

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The amount of paper used as marketing material is extraordinary. However, marketing can have so many different forms and channels. Think about new initiatives that don’t require paper and experiment around newer techniques such as growth hacking or digital inbound marketing.

9. Paperless finances

Get in touch with customers as well as with banks and suppliers, to arrange to use online banking, electronic invoicing and paperless bank statements, to cut down on the amount of unnecessary paper used.

10. Paperless reception

As mentioned in the introduction, a paperless reception is possible. Get rid of the paper logbook and all the forms and questionnaires by letting your visitors check in and sign NDAs on an iPad. For more reasons on why to kill the visitor book click here.

 

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Here I am checking in without using any paper at our client Dimension Data's office :-)

Going paperless is a team effort

Creating a paper-free office is an ongoing process, one which should be adapted and perfected over time, the most important step is to get started. The increasing access of smart technology makes the switch to paperless office practices easy.

And if the whole team is onboard it can be quite an enriching experience for everybody involved.

If you have any additional tips on how to reduce the amount of paper used in the office, feel free to share them in the comment section below. 

Some additional sources:


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