While it may seem like a new trend, the idea of the paperless office has been around since the 70s - and shows no signs of stopping. Yes, it's a positive move for the environment, and for reducing your office's carbon footprint - but did you know that it can also save you a lot of money and makes you and your team more efficient?
Let's take a look at the hard numbers. Efficiency experts claim the average worker uses over 10,000 sheets of paper a year at an annual cost of roughly $80. But that's just for the paper. When you add in all the extra costs associated with paper, that's when the numbers start to get staggering - and shockingly, the United Nations predicted that paper usage is expected to rise by 50%, meaning those numbers will only go higher. Because it's not just about paper - you also need to take into account all the costs associated with printing, faxing, equipment, storage, postage and all the hours employees spend shuffling, printing and searching for documents.
In today's post, we'll take a look at exactly how going paperless can improve your workflow - and slim down your budget - and which tools you need to use to make it an easy transition.
Toner cartridges, office machine troubleshooting and maintenance, and reams of paper - oh my! These are the big, obvious expenses, but there are plenty of small items that you'll purchase over the course of a year, like paper clips, sticky notes, pens, and even the cost of recycling bins and trash service in your office that also add up over time. Not to mention the time - and money - spent on sourcing and ordering new paper products.
By reducing your team's dependence on paper products and related items, you'll also be able to trim your budget so you can afford things that really keep your team happy - like training programs, team retreats and gatherings, and new office perks.
To quickly test this, review your current paper-related expenses with your office accountant - or use a handy paper calculator and determine ways that you can trim that budget every month. Talk with your team about which approaches they are willing to try, and then methodically put those ideas into action.
Time is one of the few resources that we can't replace. And whatever type of industry you're in, it's likely that you sometimes feel like you don't have enough hours in the day. By digitizing your documents, you can get a little of it back.
Think of it this way - you need to look up a document for a client, so you head into the file stacks, and sift through mountains of paper for that one document. If you have a good filing system, this may not take long - but what if you don't? Or what if someone else filed it away differently? With digital scans of your documents, it's much, much easier to find what you're looking for fast. Simply enter your search terms on your desktop computer, and you'll have a list of matching documents. It's more efficient, and doesn't take up space like standard file drawers.
Digitized documents are also much easier to send by email - rather than taking the time and expense of calling for a courier to deliver hard copies of documents, it's much faster to attach them to an email.
Most companies today rely on team collaboration, so it's crucial that all members of a team have access to documents and information when they need it. Using web-based services like Google Drive, Evernote & Slack to support team collaboration with archiving, tagging and track-change functionalities.
Digital documents also help to reduce the problems many creative agencies face when it comes to version control. Rather than shuffling the hard-copy of a document around to all the stakeholders, who may add their own comments and insights as it's shared around the team, a tool like Google Drive allows you to track any comments (and who they're coming from) on one updated document. You'll have a record of everyone who has weighed in with their feedback, and you'll know which sections have been changed.
From onboarding new hires, to collaborating on a project, having digital documents available makes these projects easier.
Easier Information Management
If you've ever been through a new-hire onboarding, you already know, there's an awful lot of paperwork involved. From booklets explaining health care benefits, to your employment contract (in triplicate!) to the myriad of government forms you'll need to fill out, that's a lot of unnecessary paper waste. And truthfully, most employees don't revisit that paperwork - they file it away in their desk, and look up the info they need online.
Instead of taking the time to print out these documents, create a dedicated new hire folder on your computer with digital copies of all of the relevant information a new employee will need, and copies of all the forms they'll need to fill out. When a new hire is brought on board, simply copy the file and send it to them by email or share it with them on a USB drive.
Use a tool like PDF Pro's online PDF editor to complete necessary forms like W-2s, and any personal information they may need to provide. They can even add their signature to PDF forms, further eliminating the need for paper documents.
Another great benefit to this tactic is being able to easily update information - if health benefits change, or an employee is given a promotion and needs to sign new documentation. Keeping everything digital makes it easy to find, update and share.
This is probably the most obvious benefit - the less paper you use, the less paper waste you'll have to deal with. And not just paper, but old pens, toner cartridges, file folders, and notebooks.
In addition to being more eco-friendly, less paper waste can also be good for your security practices too. By saving digital documents on a secure server, you don't need to print them. Hard copy documents, even when thrown away, can often unknowingly reveal key information about your business and your employees - so it takes time, expense and effort to shred those documents to keep your details protected.
No matter what size your office is, by implementing these changes over time, you can see benefits to your cash flow, efficiency and teamwork.