A few years ago it was all the rage to talk about paperless offices. Everyone tried to have one…but then everyone realised it was a bit trickier than they thought and much as the aim was still there in the background, everyone stopped talking about it quite as much!
Despite electronics becoming more sophisticated, we still love a bit of paper. A study in America a couple of years ago showed the average office worker uses a staggering 10,000 sheets of paper a year! Going paperless may be a stretch too far for many companies (of course it partly depends what industry you’re in) but reducing the amount of paper you use and hold on to is definitely a good move for most. Not only is it environmentally important, but it’s also good from an office organisation point of view. Desks groaning under piles of paper creates a stressful and difficult working environment – as well as potentially creating a GDPR data protection nightmare!
So, if you want to cut down the amount of paper in your office, how can you take some simple steps to achieve it?
- Analyse your paper usage – What are you using paper for? Some of these might be essential but others may no longer be necessary. Are your paper leaflets working, or would you be better investing in e-marketing? Do you need to print out minutes from meetings to share with the management team, or would an email suffice?
- Think before you print – Many of us print without thinking. Do you really need a paper copy of that electronic document? If you’re in a larger office, make printing inconvenient. Reduce the number of printers so people start to consider whether it’s worthwhile.
- Print sensibly – If you’re printing, make sure you print double sided if possible to reduce the amount of paper needed. A simple way to cut your paper usage in half, saving cash too!
- Bank it – Get in touch with banks and financial organisations to ask them to send statements electronically and do banking online as much as possible. Similarly ask customers and suppliers to send purchase orders and invoices electronically.
- Need to keep it? Scan it or store it – If there’s a document you need to keep, could it be scanned and kept electronically? This reduces the amount of documentation you need to hold in the office, makes it more secure and allows you to recycle the original paper. However, obviously some paperwork needs to be kept. In those instances consider using a document management and archiving service like McCarthy’s. We take your boxed files, which are barcoded and stored in our secure warehouse. If you need them back, we can find them instantly and return them to you. When they’re no longer needed, we can take them straight to be shredded. We find this very popular with professional services such as accountancy and law firms who need to keep documentation, or even public sector organisations such as health services. Less mess and clutter for your office, and the peace of mind that everything is kept safe if you need it at a later date.
- Share it – consider sharing software such as Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive so you, your colleagues and clients can share and amend documentation more easily electronically.
- Shred it – all paper which is no longer needed should be recycled – but if it contains any kind of personal or confidential information (even a simple email address or phone number) it needs more careful disposal. Set up a shredding service such as McCarthy’s Safe Shred. We can set up secure consoles in your place of work to store documents which need shredding, and come regularly to empty them, either shredding them at our warehouse or in our mobile van. Alternatively we can do one off shreds as needed. All waste is totally destroyed, and you get a certificate to prove it. It’s then sent off to be recycled here in the UK, coming back to start a new life as paper towels and toilet paper!
So, although paperless might be a step too far – maybe it’s time for a little less paper in your workplace!