Even with all the digital options available today, people are still hooked on paper. It may alarm you to learn that in just one year, the average office worker may use up to 10,000 sheets of paper. If you’re a business owner, you may find this paper habit expensive. Or maybe you’re just concerned about the environment, and want to reduce paper use and waste. Here are three ways your business can go paperless.
Digitize Existing Documents
More and more companies are exploring digitization for a few reasons. Available technology is continually improving, making the process easier. Customers can more easily access digital information, too. And doing away with the cost of paper and storage saves businesses money. But one of the best reasons to digitize documents is to improve efficiency. It’s much easier and faster to perform an electronic search for data than it is to sift through dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of pieces of paper to find information. The benefits of digitization are especially evident in medical facilities, for example. Considering that 500 typewritten pages equal about one megabyte of information, a doctor’s office could do away with thousands of pieces of paper used in medical records, as well as the filing cabinets and shelves needed to hold them. In addition, the ability to quickly find important information about a patient’s medical history can mean the difference between life and death for a patient. Any office can benefit from digitization, though. Less paper means less need for storage units, and the floor space to accommodate them. Less square footage means a company could save money by renting smaller spaces, or could at least make better use of the extra office space freed up by digitizing files.
Back in 2006, Bill Gates detailed his office setup and how he worked, to include how he had reduced his use of paper by, among other ways, reading news online, and using a Tablet PC in meetings rather than a notebook. He also explained that e-mail was the mode of communication used most at Microsoft, more so than any other method available. What Bill Gates knew in 2006 is what even more professionals know today. Choosing e-mail over written memos can help your office reduce paper use and waste. But employees can also find themselves bogged down by too much e-mail, and the time it takes to answer it all can actually reduce overall productivity. The key is to manage e-mail in a methodical way that allows you to address items that need immediate attention, and put aside those that can wait. Help your employees learn how best to manage their electronic correspondence, and you can reduce paper cost and use while also maintaining a productive work environment.
Provide Mobile Devices
This may seem like an expensive solution at first, but once you take a few factors into consideration, you may actually come out ahead. Consider that a case of paper costs about $50, and multiply that by the number of cases your business buys every year. Arguably the most popular tablet on the market, the Apple iPad 2—not the most recent model, but still available—start sat $399, roughly the cost of eight cases of paper. But a tablet should last at least a few years, whereas once paper is used up, it must be discarded, or preferably reused, but its viability is limited. You can also choose a less expensive tablet and still get just as much functionality and value. The more paper your business uses, the more cost-effective tablets are. You don’t necessarily have to buy one for every single employee, either, depending on what your business entails, and what your employees’ responsibilities are. It may take a little research and math to figure out the best mobile device option for your business, but it’s worth considering to reduce paper waste. Bear in mind that it may not be possible to go completely paperless. You may find instances where it’s useful to have a printed copy of a document. Still, with a little effort, and possibly some up-front, one-time expenses, you can greatly reduce the amount of paper your business uses, and save money at the same time.