Moving towards a paper-free workplace

Wellbeing at Work

Digital technologies allow us to streamline our workplace and operate more efficiently in terms of document management and storage. Long gone is the need for bulky filing cabinets and a hard copy of every document, freeing up valuable space and time.

You can improve your business’s sustainability profile by moving to a paper-free working environment, and although that’s very important, it’s not the only benefit. Your business gets a productivity boost by transitioning to digital because workflows become streamlined and more efficient.

So, although it may sound obvious, what actually is a paper-free workplace and is it feasible for all businesses to be paperless?

What is a paper-free workplace?

A paper-free business bans the unnecessary use of paper and communicates its policy clearly with staff. Paper documents are replaced with digital versions using specialist, multi-faceted software that can cover all a business’s document needs.

Some sectors still rely on paper documents, however, such as the legal profession, but they can still minimise their use of paper as much as possible and become a ‘paper-light’ workplace.    

How do you start the move towards a paperless office?

Formulate a paper-free workplace policy

Develop a paperless workplace policy to clarify and communicate your intention to digitise document management and storage. This helps to get your staff on board and gives you the best chance of a smooth transition.

Decide which documents to digitise

This might seem like an onerous task for some businesses but the end rewards make it hugely worthwhile. Categorise your documents into those no longer needed and those to be digitised, but work carefully as this is the foundation for your new system.

Train staff

Make sure staff know how to use the new software so they can hit the ground running when the documents are filed, and there’s no interruption to business efficiency.

Upload your documents into the document management software

Choose software that offers automatic filing based on your pre-set filing rules and you’ll have the documents filed away in no time, ready for your teams to access seamlessly.

Tell clients and customers about your new system

You’ll need to let clients know about any new features and systems that you’re using - some document management software incorporates an e-signature facility, for example, that can significantly speed up productivity.  

Benefits of moving towards a paper-free workplace

The many benefits of running a paper-free workplace make the transition to electronic document storage worthwhile – here are just a few:  

  • Lower costs: there’s no need to buy printer paper and ink when all documents are sent electronically. ‘Paper light’ workplaces can also considerably reduce their outgoings in this respect.
  • Greater efficiency: documents are more easily found using tight search parameters, and then collaborated on within a single platform. This reduces the risk of errors associated with version control.  
  • Improved sustainability: a paperless policy can considerably lower your carbon footprint and enable you to meet your business’s environmental goals.
  • A happier workforce: an environment that’s uncluttered by paper documents and storage cabinets is a nicer, more relaxing place to work. It can lead to greater employee satisfaction and better staff retention.

Transitioning towards a paper-free workplace may take time depending on the size and activities of your business, but it’s definitely a goal worth aiming for. Start today by choosing flexible software that manages and stores your documents logically and securely – once it’s up and running you’ll quickly notice the difference.  

This article was written by guest author Paul Williamson of Selling My Business. Paul’s expertise is in the valuing and sale of businesses and commercial properties on behalf of clients. Over his extensive career he has been involved in the sale of literally thousands of businesses, from relatively small retail businesses through to more notable, multi million pound business sales.

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