**This is a collaborative post
As companies became increasingly dependent on electronic communications, we all believed that the age of the paperless workplace was upon us. However, shops, restaurants, hairdressers, legal firms, and small manufacturing businesses still heavily rely on tangible documents. Learning how to be paperless helps minimise office waste, saves time and money, helps safely store sensitive documentation, and can help to save a few trees!
If your small business is one that is finding the transition from paper to paperless a challenge, here are some tips to help you on your way.
Tips for going Paperless
Before you switch to paperless, you need to have a secure way of storing all of your documents. Sure, you can download them to your computer in the office, but what happens when you are at home and need to access them? What about if your colleagues all need to be able to access and edit them? Not only that, by storing them to the physical memory of your device, but you will also use a lot of memory space, which can slow your computer or device down. Cloud storage, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and more specialised ones, are a secure way of storing documents so that they can be accessed anywhere by the people that need them.
How many of us have come out of a meeting with a handful of papers that get shoved on a desk or in a folder somewhere and never looked at again? Most of us, probably! Meetings are one of the easiest things to make paperless. All you need is a TV screen or a projector and an HDMI cable, and you can cast a slideshow straight from your computer for attendees to see. You can then share the slideshow with them via the cloud or email after the meeting.
Use electronic communication
Another super easy way of going paperless is to drop the letters and memos where possible and opt for electronic communication. Email is instant and gets the message to the recipient much faster, and there is almost zero chance of it getting ‘lost in the post.’ It also means you have a digital trail and record of communication should you need it, and it is easy to add media and attachments to an email. Text messages are also becoming a popular way to communicate with customers – hospitals and doctors surgeries now rely on texts to remind patients of upcoming appointments.
The days of having a physical office diary or wall planner are long gone; instead, more and more workplaces (and households!) are opting for a digital calendar, such as the one offered by Google. The benefit of this is that people can access it from their devices anywhere, so they no longer have to go into the workplace to add or check anything.
Scan existing documents
You have probably got a considerable amount of paperwork floating around from before you made the decision to go paperless, and are wondering what you do with it. Use your scanner on your printer or a scanner app to make a copy and turn it into a PDF file. This can then safely be stored in the cloud, and the original document can be shredded and disposed of responsibly. If there are documents that absolutely need keeping, scan them in still, but keep a hard copy in a safety document box.
Swap to digital receipts
How many times have you got a receipt out of your purse or envelope to file away, and it has faded so much that you have to guess at how much you paid? Probably quite a lot! A digital receipt never fades or gets lost and can be filed away in the cloud for easy access. It is easier for your customers, as it once less bit of paper they have in their office or home, and it is more cost-effective and time-effective – as well as professional – for you. If you are creating similar documents such as this time and time again, you can use document management software such as https://www.templafy.com/enterprise-document-management/.
Until recently, signing a contract would involve printing out or copying lots of papers.-Now, you can download an e-signature app or software which is considered legally binding and allow you, clients, and vendors to review and sign documents wherever and whenever.
Going paperless can seem like a big step, but by doing the above things one at a time, you will make the transition smoothly and efficiently, saving you time, money, and the planet.