There's no doubt that modern technology is amazing. We have the ability to access information and install automated systems that was only a dream was possible in years past. The advent of certain technologies have actually threatened the existence of certain products, and even entire industries. Is paper susceptible to the same threat?
There are plenty of programs and applications that make writing, sharing, and reading documents extremely simple. In reality, it is possible to completely remove the use of physical paper with these options. This is very impractical. It's been estimated that paper use in the modern office increases by 20% every year, and that on average, each office employee uses one sheet of paper every 12 minutes!
The Paper-Free Anomaly
Could your office pull it off? Take a look at your work desk. You probably have a smartphone with a word processing app sitting on top of a legal pad with scribbled notes. Down the hall you may have the company printer taking orders from the word processor on your computer, and an old fax machine tucked away in the corner. Could it be possible that the tools that were designed to save paper are actually fueling its use?
Ten years prior, it was just a dream to be able to use a printer without being wired to a CPU. Today, every computer, tablet, and smartphone in your office is wirelessly connect to your printer. Be careful! One misled click (or touch) could cause you to print out that embarrassing picture from the company picnic and waste a sheet of paper. The ease of the printing process may be fueling paper waste.
Another waste of paper comes from the old-school philosophy, "we better keep all of our records on paper in case we lose all of our computers!" Realistically, your business should have a Backup Disaster Recovery system in place, so losing data should not be a concern of yours. In the case of time sensitive information, like bill payments; your servicer will likely have your information stored into their accounts. All you'll have to do is make a phone call to ensure you don't miss a payment. Let's stop wasting paper on backing up our data.
The Paper-Free Strategy
In order to go 100% paper-free, you'll have to be committed to the process. You and your employees will have to re-form your work routines and habits, which will take some time, money, and effort. You'll have to allow some room for the occasional 37-page print accident, so you won't want to immediately strip all of your paper from the office.
You'll also want to identify the biggest perpetrators of paper waste in your office. The three most common are probably your fax machine, mail, and printer. In reality, your fax machine is probably not used as frequently since the integration of email into your business. Your fax machine could be replaced with a fax server solution that can convert the signal of an incoming fax into a digital file and send it to your inbox. Next, you'll want to get rid of your fax machine...by carefully throwing it off a bridge (No littering).
As far as your mail, it will be impossible to control the amount of paper you receive. However, your business could opt for paper-free newsletters and billing from your servicers, and encourage your customers to do the same. You could even offer a small discount for signing up for paper-free billing as an incentive for your customers.
Managing your business without a printer will be your greatest challenge in this process. This step in the game is probably not very realistic for many businesses. However, you can significantly reduce your printer's usage with a few simple steps. For example, you could commit to sending all written employee communication through an online server. Also, you could install a print server, allowing a manager to control what gets printed in your office.
Making a commitment to integrating a paper-free workday will take a lot of effort to put new habits and technology into place. You'll have to lay a few ground rules and monitor your employees through the process. It may seem like a headache, but it's certainly possible. Computerware can help with your paper-free dreams! Give us a call at (703) 821-8200 we can help guide you through the process of experiencing paper freedom!
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