Consider for a moment how much paper your company uses each day. What about each week? Each year?
According to the Technical Association for the Worldwide Pulp, Paper, and Converting Industry, the average individual working American handles around 700 pounds of memos, contracts, bills, agendas, files and other documents every year.
Besides the obvious environmental benefits, going paperless will save you money and space, help you keep track of sensitive documents, improve customer service by having instant access to customer data and better organize your office communications.
If you’re like a lot of business owners, you find paper comforting and convenient. It can seem easier to review a document if you can hold the hard copy in your hand, and there might be more step involved to get an electronic signature than a good old-fashioned pen-and-ink John Hancock. But it doesn’t take long for business owners to see the time (and money) that can be saved by transitioning to an electronic filing system. And, with a little research, security concerns about keeping data in the cloud are easily relieved.
The trick is finding the right software for your business.
These five companies got the memo, and launched eco-friendly campaigns in the name of better business.
This credit card issuer introduced a paperless campaign to its customers in 2007. Citigroup’s “Plant-a-Tree” initiative promises to plant a tree for every customer who switches to using Citi’s new paperless statements. These new statements include email alerts and the ability to save and access old documents, improving ease of use for customers.
The company projected $700,000 in annual savings, just by encouraging employees to conserve one sheet of paper each week by printing on both sides.
2. Idea Rebel
Idea Rebel is a small Vancouver-based digital marketing office with extreme “no paper” rules. Every document, including memos, content offers, and pay stubs is handled digitally. No paper coffee cups are allowed in the office. Employees are allowed to bring one notepad of paper to the office and must take it with them when they leave. If clients demand paper copies, Idea Rebel will go so far as to decline their business.
The company justifies its paperless fervor by claiming that as a digital marketing office, paper is the antithesis of its core value. This ideology has gained Idea Rebel a widespread eco-positive reputation, increased speed of business, and has led to considerable cost savings.
3. TNT Airlines
TNT is a cargo and passenger airline that mostly operates in Europe. Around the end of 2014, TNT became the first airline in Europe to receive permission to implement a “paperless cockpit”. By installing iPads in each of its 50 planes, the airline was able to replace the 110 pounds of documents that were previously carried on each flight.
This new system saves space and dramatically simplifies the process of updating cargo documents that may change during a job.
4. SunCoast Medical Clinic
A St. Petersburg, Florida-based clinic has replaced their traditional filing cabinets with Customer Relationship Management technology that has become increasingly affordable and popular for storing patient data. Data is now much more easily sorted, edited, and shared inside and outside of the clinic.
On top of this improved efficiency, SunCoast estimates that it has reduced its paper waste by 80% and is saving around $1 million per year.
5. Tastefully Simple
Tastefully Simple sells gourmet food that is easy to prepare in homes. The company made great efforts to reduce paper use and disposal.
By implementing electronic financial statements, conference registrations, and order forms, the company saves $100,000 per year and has reduced 40-50% of its waste. These savings are good for Tastefully Simple’s bottom line and reputation as a responsible company.
How to Get Started
As can be seen from the list above, paperless technology can benefit a wide variety of workplaces including small marketing offices in Vancouver, cargo airlines in Europe, and international credit card distributors. Although the scale of results for each company varies, the steps taken to reduce paper use is largely similar across the board. Follow these steps to get your business on the right track to going paperless.
- Start with an Environmental Assessment– Calculating the amount of waste that your business puts out can reveal areas of needed improvement and can help you to set reduction goals.
- Calculate potential cost savings- Record all mailing, printing, and storage costs to determine the amount of money that you could be spending more wisely.
- Train and incentivize employees- Some employees may need some encouragement as they transition into paperless technology. Education sessions and rewards for eco-friendly actions will make the shift smoother.
- Form a “Green Team”– Forming a committee whose main objective is resource conservation will help to identify issues that are specific to your office.
- Phase out old technology- Gradually reduce printer use to save on costs of stocking it with paper and ink.
- Introduce cloud-based technology- Using applications like Google Docs, PayPal, or Xero allows business owners to collaborate on documents, make payments, and manage finances without harming a single tree.
Xero, specifically, is a huge help to business owners that are in the process of converting to paperless. This Cloud-based accounting software will help you to calculate costs, making it easier to determine your business’s ability to implement new technology. The financial management tools in Xero will give you a greater amount of control of your money and eliminate reliance on paper for financial documents.
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