The Tooth Fairy. Unicorns. Bigfoot. The paperless office. Most office workers have heard about all four, but few have seen any of them.
We all know a paperless office is a good, environmentally friendly idea. In reality, it seems like trying to go paperless results in more work to add to an already packed workday. There are ways, however, to incorporate paper-saving initiatives into everyday tasks and activities that may actually be more convenient than using paper and SAVE time.
Here are ten smart ways to forge a paperless office.
1. Avoid declaring “all or nothing.
” It’s a bit overwhelming to go paperless, unless it’s accomplished in stages. Begin with one area. Tackle old paper file conversions, or commit to creating new files electronically. Staying on track is why you must…
2. Set goals and timelines.
Measurable goals with reasonable timelines lay out expectations. Broad statements like “let’s try to go paperless” nets few results. Choose an area, and set a timeline for it to be paperless, then choose another one. Goals will help you get there.
3. Create an electronic document archive.
Electronically file old records you must keep. All you need is a document scanner or workgroup scanner and an electronic filing cabinet. This clears out the stacks of paper in your office, increases efficiency, and protects valuable files in the event of theft, fire, or other loss.
4. Invest in a CRM for working files.
CRMs are a tremendous asset in general, and promote a paperless office in particular. Customer file databases, pricing, sales notes, and a host of other important information can be stored and easily retrieved on a CRM.
5. Learn how to use Google docs.
Everyone in the office can set up a free account, create documents, and share files on Google docs. Entire departments, even those with remote team members, can reduce paper by using this tool.
6. Switch to e-signatures.
New account paperwork is one example of how e-signature solutions can foster a paperless system. Invest in a system like nForm for completely paperless forms and documents, and is secure and can electronically submit the signed paperwork into your files.
7. Get your vendors on board.
Encourage your business partners to send files and documents via email. It will surprise you how much total office paperwork is reduced by emailing and file sharing with your vendors.
8. Announce the initiatives to your clients.
Ask customers to participate. Along with sending paperwork electronically, they can file share and scan documents to their sales executive. Instead of thick paper how-to guides, try using video training tutorials to provide customer education.
9. Share the plan office-wide.
Be a cheerleader for a paperless office. It’s vital to gain individual buy-in to make it work. Explain the benefits of decreased cost and increased efficiency to get people on board.
10. Bill electronically.
Say bye-bye to paper billing. Implement an electronic billing system that saves paper and postage, and offers an easier way to keep track of receivables.
Evolving into a paperless office is not easy. By taking small steps, setting goals, and encouraging others to see the benefits, a paperless office can be in your future.
But probably not a unicorn. Sorry.