The paperless office is almost a mythical idea – at least it feels that way. For the better part of two decades, people have been saying we’re on the verge of completely eliminating paper from the modern office. Yet, here we stand in 2018, and paper is still relied on to a significant degree.
However, one thing is different. We finally do have the technology that makes the paperless office possible. Or, in a more practical sense, we have the technological capabilities to eliminate 90 percent of paper usage in the office.
At this point, mindsets and habits are the biggest hurdles. In order to ditch paper processes and replace them with virtual alternatives, people have to change.
6 Tips for Ditching Paper
In light of the current landscape we find ourselves in, here are a handful of practical tips and steps your business can take this year to finally go paperless.
1. Notify Everyone
If you’re serious about going paperless, you’ll have to communicate this to outside partners. (This includes clients, service providers, customers, and anyone else your company interacts with on a regular basis.) In doing so, you can sign up for paperless billing, reduce mail, and participate in changing the culture in your industry.
2. Scan Everything
The number one rule of thumb is to scan every new piece of paper that comes into your office and upload it to the cloud.
“There are plenty of good scanner apps for your smartphone available, so you can do it right away,” GoodNotes explains. “Check if you need to keep the original version of a document after scanning. If not, toss it. For larger stacks of paper, we suggest getting yourself geared up with an automatic document scanner.”
3. Adopt Electronic Signatures
One of the more wasteful practices is the signing of documents. When a document needs to be signed, one company usually sends an email, the recipient prints it, signs it, scans it, emails it back, and the original sender then prints off a final copy. In other cases, the document is mailed, signed, copied, and returned.
Either way, the process is inefficient and wasteful. A far better solution is to adopt electronic signatures, which are fast, easy, and totally paperless.
4. Prove Usefulness
The key to getting people to adopt paperless solutions is to show that they’re useful. People need to see value in order to participate, otherwise they’ll resist.
How your business proves usefulness will differ from the next, but be on the lookout for opportunities. For example, you may try using SAP Interactive Forms software by Adobe to develop and deploy interactive forms that automated paper-based activities. As a result, employees will enjoy greater simplicity and efficiency – resulting in higher satisfaction and a positive view of “paperless.”
5. Discourage Paper Use
In addition to encouraging paperless actions, businesses should also discourage paper usage. Examples include: tracking and limiting prints/scans per employee; rewarding employees who use the least amount of paper in a period; and initiating a recycling program in the office.
6. Don’t Quit Cold Turkey
Whatever you do, don’t go cold turkey with paper. Not only is this impossible and inefficient, but it’s frustrating for your employees. And as soon as employees see the paperless movement as inconvenient and ineffective, they’re going to become bitter and resentful. For best results, ease into this new setup and constantly collect and evaluate feedback.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
If you’re one of those people who would like to make your business paperless, it’s time to stop talking and start doing. The technology exists (and it’s pretty affordable). Take things one step at a time and look for incremental progress.