Do you feel defeated when you see the amount of paper that passes through your office every day, taking up tones of space and cluttering everything?
You may think that there is just no way you’ll ever get rid of all that paper and that going paperless isn’t for the type of business you run.
But this is 2017, and going paperless isn’t such a big deal as it once was. Numerous apps and gadgets make the transition easier and if you put just a little bit of effort into it, you too will be able to enjoy all the benefits of a paperless business.
EVALUATE YOUR CURRENT SITUATION
Firstly, do a thorough check of the paper that flows through your office and make adjustments. In every office there is a ton of unnecessary paper that just flows around. Make sure you:
- Opt out of any unnecessary mailing lists
- Switch to paying your bills electronically
- Reuse any paper that is already out and about and recycle anything that you can’t use
Though getting rid of a single piece of paper may not seem important, every small step in the right direction counts.
In order to make any real progress, you’ll have to be ruthless. Though it may seem that it is absolutely necessary to hold onto that specific bill or a note, but more often than not, it’s not true.
There is a simple rule to follow when throwing away stuff: when in doubt, get rid of it! At the beginning it does seem scary, but you’ll soon realize how satisfying it feels to de-clog your professional life.
A GOOD SCANNER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
Once you’ve sorted things out, you will have to transfer all the relevant leftover paper data into an electronic version. This means you will have to invest in a scanner.
Luckily, scanners nowadays are no longer expensive, nor do they take much space. An investment in a small, quick scanner that provides you with solid images won’t cost you too much. There are also scanners which are integrated with planning apps and digital filing cabinets, which is always useful!
Another necessary step you’ll have to take is to digitalize your signature. If you are running any kind of serious business, often times you have to sign a receipt, a delivery list, or any number of documents that regularly pass through an office.
Sign your signature clearly and scan it. That way, you’ll get a digital version of your signature so you’ll no longer have to print things out to sign them.
MAKE THE BEST OF AVAILABLE APPS
You will also have to think about how to manage your documentation. Cloud document management systems, like the versatile FolderIt, will allow you to share the documents among the employees, approve documents or workflows, set up notifications and reminders, search your documentation and much, much more.
Not only that, but if you opt for a cloud based solution, you will also be able to access all of your files remotely from any device that has internet access. You will no longer be confined to a single work space and you and your team will be able to do serious work wherever you are.
Don’t be afraid to utilize more than one app. Smart use of available technology will get you much further than just plainly managing your documents.
Apps will help you:
- Be productive and stay on track
- Collaborate more easily and with less paperwork
- Plan, strategize and organize
- Make networking easier
- Manage e-mails and much more
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A SOLID BACKUP
The good thing about paper is that it was palpable. Even if something got lost in the filing, 9 out of 10 times you were able to find it with a thorough search expedition.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with the electronic documentation. A dead hard drive will take your data to the grave with it. So make sure that everything that is important has a solid backup.
This also means you should inquire with your cloud service provider how protected your data is and what is their recovery policy if anything goes wrong (and if recovery is included in the price or will you have to pay extra).
You and your team will no longer be able to write down notes by hand. No more carrying around pens and pads, and scribbling down things in meetings.
Instead, you’ll have to utilize laptops, smartphones and tablets.
If investing in tablets for every member of your team is just too expensive for you, designate a person in every meeting that will take notes for everyone and distribute them to team members afterwards.
GOING PAPERLESS IS A TEAM EFFORT
One thing worth mentioning is that going paperless is not only about installing the apps and getting the necessary gadgets. It is about changing the work culture and a strong team effort. Everyone in the team will have to be up for making a change. This means that each and every member of your team will have to think twice before deciding to print out a document or writing down something instead of using a digital planner.
Experience has shown that the biggest problems small and medium businesses have when switching to a paperless work mode is not the lack of necessary tools or equipment, but the uncooperative workers who are deeply set in the way they’ve worked so far.
Getting everyone aboard and really standing behind the idea of a paperless office is crucial for success.
Explain to your teammates that the benefits are clear. They will be able to work faster and more efficient. A lot of money will be saved in the end while at the same time less clutter will be created and the work environment will be nicer. Searching for specific data or documentation will be faster and easier. And in the end, it all has a special plus of being positive for the environment (which also means that you can advertise your company as eco-friendly)!
So don’t be afraid to take the leap! It’s guaranteed you’ll be happy with the results of a paperless work environment.