There was a time when the only way to store documents was on paper. As a result, among of the key features of many offices are the rows upon rows of filing cabinets packed with folders of paper. Today, companies have the option of reducing their dependence on paper documents. There are environmental benefits of doing away with paper as your business will be reducing its use of nonrenewable resources, but there are financial ones as well. Consider the following tips to ease the transition from paper-based to paperless.
Understand What it Takes to Go Paperless
The first step is to learn what the transition entails. Going paperless is a significant change and can immediately affect your bottom line. The benefits range from additional space in your facility as you eliminate record rooms and banks of filing cabinets. There is also the ease with which you will be able to retrieve electronic records versus the difficulties associated with searching through reams of paper. In short, it can greatly improve the efficiency of your workflow; however, it is not without its challenges as your employees may not all buy into it. In addition, you may face legal requirements that force you to keep paper records. All of these should be factored into your decision to go paperless.
Discourage the Use of Paper
You may want to make the move towards a paperless office a gradual one. Start with initiatives like tracking the amount of paper that your office uses and making sure that everyone is aware of the numbers. Another option for discouraging paper use is to reduce the number of printers available in your office, thus making it less convenient to print. If it is more trouble to print, employees may think twice before printing unnecessarily. Fostering a culture of recycling can also help to ease the transition.
Do Away With Faxing
Replace faxes with PDF files that can be filled and that can be sent via email or in a web browser. There are free and paid tools that can help you to do this. if you have vendors and clients that still require you to use a fax machine, subscribe to an online fax provider that will send faxes to your email.
Invest in Document Imaging
A document imaging service can make the transition easier. A document imaging service can scan all of your records in addition to setting up databases and providing training for your staff. This enables you to minimize any effects on your workers' productivity. The right document imaging service allows you to make the switch with less stress and fewer hiccups.
Invest in the Infrastructure
You will need the right tools to make the most of a paperless work environment. To support your paperless office you may want to consider multi-monitor workstations. By giving your workers more screen real estate via multiple screens, you make it easier for them to handle tasks like cross-referencing documents without needing to print them.
Enlist Tech-Minded Employees
Find the employees who are the best prepared to make the move a paper-free workplace. Look for workers who are already more comfortable working with screens and keyboards than they are with paper. Once you identify these individuals, use them as a part of the training effort for the rest of your staff.
The move to a paperless work environment is not something that will happen overnight. It can take a while to completely change the culture of your organization; however, the right tools and practices can make the process easier.