The Paperless Office


According to a report from the Bureau of International Recycling, the Environmental Protection Agency and The Economist, the average person in the US uses 5.57 trees per year.

Time magazine reports that a single office worker can use 10,000 sheets of copier paper annually.

And yet, the reliance on paper has been found to not only be primarily habitual rather than necessary, reducing its consumption has actually been found to be beneficial.

This has driven businesses and consumers alike to consider ways to reduce their paper consumption.

Using technology to replace or reduce paper is applicable both in the home and in business, and the tools, techniques (and price tags) vary depending on the need, current state and future goals.

To begin, the easiest first step is to simply skip the paper altogether. Eliminate the need for paper right at the source by saving important documents to PDF, using electronic note-taking tools like Google Notebook , and simply not printing if it is not absolutely necessary.

The next step for the home is to cut back on the paper clutter. With your basic internet connection and a few spare minutes you can make the switch to electronic billing. Many businesses even provide incentives for doing so, as it saves the company money as well. Then, sign up to stop receiving the unwanted junk mail that ends up clogging the mailbox, only to be directly deposited in the trash.

From a business standpoint, it can get a bit more complicated-and costly-to reduce paper.

To begin, find out how your business practices and policies on digital signatures. The need to sign documents is one of the most common reasons for printing, but it is not essential. Utilizing digital signatures means you aren’t required to print a contract only to sign and scan it right back to an electronic version.

Switch from business cards to a QR code style card that includes pertinent information. Contacts can scan the code with their smartphone or tablet and save your information directly. This eliminates the need for paper cards and has a greater guarantee that contacts will actually save your information.

Encourage traveling employees to go paperless with their boarding passes, hotel confirmations and rental car bookings.

Implement a technology solution for going paperless which utilizes electronic tasks, automatic routing of documents and digital storage of all information in the organization. This goes back to stopping the creation of paper files in the first place, as everything can be stored and accessed in its electronic version form within the system. The organization can share and collaborate without the need for printing.

Keep in mind, paper must not be totally eliminated “to achieve a paperless office”. It’s about reducing paper in whatever way is beneficial to you, your business and hopefully, the environment, too.


About the Author - Samantha McCollough works for iDatix who create intelligent software and solutions that align people, processes and technology to help businesses streamline their processes and simplifying their workplace.