The Power of Paperless - Doing Business in a Paper-Free World
According to The Paperless Project , the average workplace employee uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year. And 45% of the paper printed in offices ends up trashed by the end of the day, which accounts for over a trillion sheets of paper per year worldwide*. These two facts alone are enough to make any business owner or manager consider going paperless!
The paperless office. Or paperless business. We’ve all read about it. Thought about it. Envied those who claim to have it. And maybe wondered ‘How would we do that in our company?’ or ‘Where would we start?’ The ‘how, where and more’ issues are especially challenging for any sort of fleet-oriented business, since the employees are far more than just office-based. But there are some easy places to start, so here are a few tips to create a ‘paperless office’. Some require capital expense, while others are virtually free. And any or all of them will move your company and your employees further down the ‘paperless business’ path!
Tip #1: Start with some obvious paper reduction activities
Making any moves toward ‘going paperless’ (or the more realistic ‘going almost paperless’ or ‘going as paperless as possible!’) is a good thing. And there are a number of simple places to start. So consider any (or all) of the following as excellent, low-stress ways to start a paperless movement within your company:
Tip #2: Reduce incoming paper to reduce outgoing (and other) paper
- If your business requires employee presentations, make the shift to all-digital presentations. No more printouts of that PowerPoint presentation. Post it instead to your company intranet or server. Or email it after the presentation. Among other things, this saves paper and keeps meeting attendees focused on the presenter and his or her comments!
- Reset all your office printers to print on two sides of each page vs. one-sided. The result? An instant 50% reduction in the number of pages printed out!
- Establish consistent guidelines for document naming and storage. In order to keep ‘the wrong documents’ or files from being printed, establish a very clear document naming structure (that works within your operating system) and communicate the structure to all employees. By making it easier for employees to find documents in servers or cloud storage, the incidence if printing incorrect files can be significantly reduced.
Consider requesting paperless statements from banks or other service providers. If you have never done this, it’s a practice with a built-in safety net because you can request both online and paper statements from most service providers you work with. Getting in the practice of reducing incoming paper does two important things:
Tip #3: Go paperless in the field with remote driver options
- First, it can reduce the amount of paper (checks, envelopes, etc.) and time your accounting or accounts payable/receivable staff use processing and paying invoices; and…
- Second, it allows you to see how paperless statements might look or ‘work’ if they were coming from your company to your customers (again, a sort of ‘practice run’ before you shift to paperless invoicing from your company.)
If your business operates any size fleet, you have no doubt faced the challenge of drivers, expenses, and lost receipts. Fortunately, there are a number of options (easily found via web search) that allow drivers of any sort to scan, transmit and otherwise manage receipts while on the road. Whether you join one of the kiosk-based services that are now in almost every major truck stop, or whether you choose to outfit your vehicles or drivers with in-cab or mobile technology, the end results are clear and immediate: greater accounting efficiency (receipts come into the central office faster); and time efficiency and increased productivity (since drivers will spend less time tracking down receipts).
Tip #4: Make changes to your office infrastructure to reduce paper waste
One reason that employees often print documents is to cross-reference them with other documents that are being used in the workplace. Depending on your employee job tasks and the number of staff, consider providing dual monitor workstation configurations for appropriate (or all) employees. By giving an employee two (or even three) screens and linking them together with appropriate software, you give them more ‘visual real estate’ to see multiple documents, work with all of them at once, and thus enhance productivity and reduce paper use (since less time will be spent printing out documents and going to/from the printer). Plus, monitors are inexpensive and last a very long time, so the expense is nominal compared to the payout.
Tip #5: Move the printers farther from users
No, seriously. Consider consolidation of workplace printers. And removal of individual printers in offices. It makes logical sense that forcing users to walk farther to get to the printer may well lead to declines in the number of documents transmitted to printers! (And let’s face it, it also makes logical sense that employees with a printer actually in their office are likely the worst offenders at the ‘printing everything’ game!)
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