7 simple steps for a paperless office

/ 4 min read
Max Delaney

Paper has been the number one office supply since offices have existed, so you're not alone in thinking going paperless is as daunting as Monday on a Sunday night.

For many companies, paper is our closest work companion. But breaking that intrinsic relationship isn't as hard as you might imagine.

Not only are there financial and environmental benefits to a paperless office, but productivity and organisation can also improve with a proper digital workflow.

Why do we still use paper?

While going paperless is easier today than ever before, paper usage is still a thing for a reason.

From invoices to note-taking and legal documents to onboarding lists at a new job, paper is there for every occasion. Most of which feels like there’s no replacement for.

That’s no longer true.

We use paper for the same reason you eat the strawberry ice cream at 11 pm, even though you don’t even like strawberry flavour. Because it’s there.

Luckily, going paperless is all about incremental change. The key to a one-day paperless office is making thoughtful decisions, not throwing all your printers out the window and downloading every productivity app in sight.

Why go paperless?

There are heaps of advantages of digitizing your office workflow:

  • Environmental Impact: The Australian Government reports that one tonne of paper requires over 20 trees and around 10 litres of water to produce a single A4 sheet. By going paperless, even a small team can significantly reduce its environmental footprint.
  • Productivity Boost: A cloud-based system means that vital documents are at your fingertips, reducing the time wasted on hunting down files.
  • Cost Reduction: The long-term costs of paper, ink, and maintenance of printers add up. Digital solutions, while not entirely free, prove more economical in the long run.
  • Security Assurance: Digital files offer greater protection against loss, theft, or accidental damage, with password protection and dedicated access adding extra layers of security.
  • Flexibility: A paperless office allows you to work from anywhere, giving you the freedom to operate without being bound by stacks of paper.

Whether you’re working from home, in a hybrid environment or can’t seem to help taking work home with you, a paperless office is a godsend.

Your 7-step guide to going paperless

Unfortunately, you can’t just throw your filing cabinet and printers out the window and demand no more paper be used.

Going paperless, like anything worthy of doing, starts with a few small steps; here’s a quick guide to getting started.

1. Analyse how you use paper

The first step is knowing where you need to change.

If your biggest culprit of paper usage is invoices and shipping labels, and you decide to reduce paper made for surveys, you’re not changing anything.

2. Brainstorm how you will go paperless

Now it’s time to look at digital alternatives to your paper usage. Physical newsletters can become emails. There’s little reason for physical receipts and invoices. Even legal documents can be validated by an eSignature.

There is a paperless alternative to mostly everything. A quick search will provide a complete list dedicated to your situation, but we provide a short list below.

3. Discuss it with your team

As with any office-altering decision, speak to your team. Explain the benefits of going paperless, why you want to do it and how smooth the transition will be. Or, just send this article with a thumbs-up emoji.

You’re guaranteed to get some pushback, so listen to their concerns and provide digital alternatives or brainstorm how you can surpass them. A paperless office requires a team effort.

4. Take to the cloud

The most important part of a paperless office is cloud storage and online applications. If you're online enough to be reading this, you’re probably using one.

The faster you can start working through the cloud the sooner you can start filing documents digitally, scanning physical documents and having a productive digital workflow.

5. Train your staff

Whether you’re changing from Google to OneDrive, signing up to a document management system or opening boxes of digital scanners, make sure your team knows how to use new gadgets.

This could mean hiring a specialist to train the team in your new cloud system or just leaving your door open for any questions.

6. No more printers

Desktop printers are too hard to resist for any worker. With a dedicated printing room, you’ll know who is printing and what needed printing. Walking to the printer will be a deterrent to any unnecessary printing.

7. Invest in the right tools

Here are some tools that your flash new paperless office will need to run smoothly.

  • A digital scanner: A scanner is essential for converting any lingering physical documents into digital format.
  • Cloud Storage: Systems like Google's G Suite or Microsoft's OneDrive can manage your digital files effectively.
  • Collaboration tools: Paperform's digital forms, Papersign for document signing, Slack for instant communication, Asana for project management, and Miro for a diverse array of project needs will keep your office productive and paper-free.

With Paperform you can look after forms, document workflows, and integrate with your favourite cloud tool

Start your 14-day free trial now. No credit card needed.

Time to go paperless

Transitioning to a paperless business model has never been easier. With digital signatures, cloud storage, scanners, and an array of online tools designed to facilitate a paperless workflow, there are digital alternatives for virtually every paper-reliant task.

So, consider this: Toss the loose paper on your desk into the recycling bin, scan those essential documents, and start creating digital records. Before you know it, you'll be thriving in a more organized, cost-efficient, and environmentally friendly paperless workspace.

About the author
Max Delaney
Freelance Contributor
Max is a freelance writer and journalist. If he’s not hunched over the computer, you’ll find him falling asleep to sport or pleading with his dog to eat.

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