Steps to a Paperless Office: A Business Guidebook

Steps to a paperless office are now worth considering as paper is the root of inefficiency, lack of security, and environmental concerns.

The concept of a paperless office is far from new, but the transition has never been as easily realized as it is today. Resources such as cloud storage, document management, file sharing, and collaboration make the process simple and attainable. Going paperless offers the rewards of saved money, time, and environmental resources, but knowing where to start can be difficult. The following basic steps will lead to a smooth transition to a paper-free office.

Get the Right Equipment

There are a number of things you’ll need to ensure your office can transition properly. A good computer with a secure and reliable internet connection is crucial. Desktop scanners help with conversion of documents to a digital format. These tools will help employees easily convert to the paperless model.

Go Through Existing Paperwork

While the task is daunting in many cases, all papers should be examined. Be consistent with the file types and date ranges that will be kept and those that will be discarded, and be ruthless in the winnowing process. Choose a specific conversion date: Save paper documents that precede that date, and convert to digital those that follow it.

Scan Papers that Need to be Saved

Use software created for optical character recognition (OCR) to ensure the best digitization. This allows documents to be converted to PDF. It also digitizes the printed text, making it easily searchable.

Recycle or Shred Old Papers

Don’t let old papers that have been converted take up your valuable space. Shred sensitive documents for the protection of clients and employees. Recycle those that do not contain valuable information.

Establish Naming System

It is important that you decide on a naming system for files from the very beginning. Make this clear to everyone who will use your new system, so they know how to name documents as well as how to find them.

Store and Share Files

Using file synchronization, folders can be shared among multiple computers. When one user updates a file, the newest version is accessible on all computers that share it. File transferring not only creates a paperless office, but makes collaboration simple as well. Be sure to use a secure web portal with bank-grade encryption to facilitate this step, especially if you work in the finance, accounting, or insurance industry.

Convert Meeting Printouts

Stop passing out printed agendas at meetings. A low-budget option is to use one or more whiteboards. Larger companies can invest in meeting rooms with individual monitors at each seat. A more moderate approach is to use software that sends the information from the presenter’s computer to other computers and smart phones.

Paperless Billing

Online options help you save on postage, ink, stationary, and time. If you are billing a customer, offer them a paperless option. Opt in to email statements for the company for services or products you purchase. All of this will leave less paperwork cluttering up your space. This is one of the last steps to a paperless office.

Always Make Backups

Cloud storage, external secondary hard drives, and online backup services are all valid options to defend against equipment failure. Regular, consistent backing up of files should become second nature to all employees.

An office that utilizes efficient document management, backs up files regularly, and uses file sharing effectively will find the paperless existence far superior to the former reliance on paper. Everything from jotted notes to shared memos and collaborative projects can be managed easily with today’s technology. Following these basic steps can provide a simple transition to an efficient, environmentally friendly, cost-effective, paperless office. What step are you on?