Why Going Paperless is a Good Idea: How to Make it Happen

Oct 31, 2015 by


If you think that going paperless in the workplace is a great idea whose time has not quite come, think again: many major companies around the world are taking tangible steps to reduce their carbon footprint and paper usage. Some companies are taking this goal to an extreme: Idea Rebel, a Canadian digital agency, has banned paper completely — employees are not even allowed to drink coffee from paper cups. Other companies that have drastically reduced their use of paper include the Virginia Cancer Institute, which now uses an electronic document management system to handle their scads of medical and financial records, as well as the Cleveland Department of Public Health.

Embracing the Paperless Work Style

In addition to saving big bucks on reams of copy paper and keeping several dozen trees standing in the forest, there are other benefits of going paperless. As Aiim Community notes, an average of seven percent of printed documents are either misfiled or lost. If these papers fall into the wrong hands, it can lead to disastrous consequences, especially if the documents include a lot of sensitive data. Printed reports and documents are not as secure as many people think; just about anyone can access file cabinets in offices, and if employees remember to lock their drawers, determined people can break in pretty easily.

Cyber crime and identity theft techniques are also constantly evolving, and methods that used to prevent this from happening may not be as effective anymore. For instance, even business owners who dutifully shred paper documents can become victims. To learn more about the latest trends and tips on how to avoid cyber crime, check out LifeLock’s Facebook page; the identity theft protection company often posts interesting and newsworthy articles about how to secure sensitive information in the workplace.

One Printout at a Time

Once you’ve made the decision to go paperless, adopt a plan to gradually work toward this goal. A great first step is to send out an email — not a printed memo — announcing the paperless plan and giving an approximate timeline of how it will happen. Next, contact the vendors you do business with and request emailed statements, including all banks and company credit cards. To make sure the e-statements are secure, store them on your company’s main computer system, or in a cloud-based storage system. Or you can find an online accessible system to back up sensitive data; for example, the Neat program is easy to use and helps to identify and organize documents, and FileThis allows users to pull documents out of email accounts.

To encourage their employees to go paperless as well, host a “wacky coffee mug” contest that encourages everyone to bring in their favorite mug from home, and set up a mug washing station in the break room. Reward workers who consistently send email reminders about meetings and use little or no paper with a paid afternoon off or a nice lunch, and as everyone gets used to being paperless, schedule shredding parties where everyone scans and then shreds important documents and receipts.

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