Updated: Jul 21
Going paperless as a business offers not only great benefits for you as a company but for the planet as well. A sustainable approach to document management, a paperless system has the potential to reduce errors, improve efficiency, and help your business “green” its operations. Greening Your Life can help you devise sustainable solutions not only in the workplace but in your personal life as well.
Why Go Paperless?
According to Stop Waste, going paperless achieves the obvious goal - paring down paper consumption, which allows for sustainable operations while reducing deforestation. It also reduces costs associated with buying paper products, printing, and mailing. In addition, many consumers and vendors prefer paperless methods for everything from marketing to invoicing and online bill paying. It can also help reduce human error, make your company more efficient and productive, and aid in increasing document security - an especially important factor when it comes to storing sensitive, proprietary, or financial information.
Where to Start
Before going paperless, you’ll need to decide what you’ll do with your existing document management system. If you have invoices, customer records, contracts, and accounting and payroll all in a paperless system, you’ll need to devise a strategy for scanning and storing those in your new system, then shredding and recycling the originals. This can take a while, especially if you’re doing it in conjunction with introducing a new paperless system. According to Gallup, the key is to get employee buy-in - after all, things will get easier in the long run - and setting expectations about what needs to happen during the transitional period.
Explore Software Options
There are a number of different software packages that will support your transition to a paperless system. You’ll want to select the one that aligns with your unique business needs. Using an assortment of premade templates can be especially helpful. You can brand the best invoice template and add your own logo, company colors, address, and contact information. It’s easy to fill in, distribute via email, and store safely in your online document management system. Whatever new changes you implement, build in time for training and adjustment as staffers get up to speed with new processes. You might even want a “dual-use” period between systems to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
Other Paper Reduction Options
In addition to going paperless with business documents and processes, consider reducing paper usage in your product packaging and shipping processes as well. You can also ask vendors and suppliers to send you paperless docs, and look for other ways to reduce consumption. For example, if you’re forming a limited liability company (LLC) or changing your business entity, there’s a lot of paperwork involved - using an online formation service reduces paper use. Rules around LLC formation vary from one state to another, so learn about your state’s requirements in advance.
Market Your Efforts
Greening your business is a big deal, and many consumers intentionally seek out green businesses to patronize. Promote your sustainability efforts to your customers through advertising mediums, your website, and social media. Link your paperless decision to ease of use for customers, reduce paper use and waste, and ensure efficiency and security in the way you handle all materials in your business. If you use other sustainable features in your company, like recycling, using electric vehicles, or building LEED-certified facilities, use those to bolster your image from a public relations perspective. It will help you attract more business, and allow you to lead by example.
A paperless system improves productivity, efficiency, security and it’s good for the environment. Get your employees on board with your green initiatives and continually strive to bring more innovative, forward-thinking ideas to the table.
Greening Your Life offers practical advice and solutions to help you live and work more sustainably. From informational online content to consulting services, Greening Your Life is devoted to providing realistic insights into how to be more environmentally conscious. Visit the site to learn more.
Tina Martin - site contributor