A long time ago, in a land not too far away, a business owner dreamed of a paperless paradise. As he surveyed his domain – a small business with 10 employees all working hard to keep everything working, he sighed. With so many stacks of paper, filing and memos being passed around, how could his dream of a clean, eco-friendly and secure office possibly come true? Well, that business owner hadn’t read our guide to going (almost) paperless. He did have one thing right though – it is pretty much impossible for a business to completely eliminate paper, but it is possible to reduce it to almost nothing with a few easy steps.
Invest In Digital Document Management
All across the country there are hundreds of thousands of filing cabinets, all sitting full of paperwork waiting to be found. Some of them will be rifled through regularly to find the relevant documents, while others will be left to gather dust in the corner of the office. The average floor space taken up by 1 filing cabinet is 7.1 square foot, so a business paying £55 per square foot in rent would need to spend £390 a month just to keep that filing cabinet. That’s the cost of physical document management. Digital document management removes not only the cost of keeping physical documents, but the frustration of having to flick through hundreds of documents just to find the one you want. Instead, it stores digital copies of every document in an online central repository, where they can be accessed at any time with the click of a button. You can set up tags for each document to file them by category, file type, client, any system you want. These systems are simple to use and manage while completely eliminating the need for physical document storage.
Convert Paper Documents
The decision you now face is whether to use your document management system going forward, or whether to apply it retroactively to all of your existing paperwork. We strongly recommend doing the latter, as this will allow you to have everything in one place as opposed to split between filing cabinets and servers. It also means you can get rid of the filing cabinet and encourage employees to stop generating paper. If you choose to move your current paper documents into a document management system, you will need to convert them to digital format. This will take some time in front of a scanner, but does provide a good opportunity to examine what documentation you need to keep and what can be discarded. Once you have scanned the documents, the system can then extract the relevant information and store them for you, making it a much simpler process.
Dispose Of Paperwork Securely
Once all of your documents have been scanned and categorised, you will be left with a rather large pile of unnecessary paperwork. Some of this will contain sensitive or confidential information about employees, clients or suppliers, so it’s important it’s disposed of correctly. Rather than sending someone to sit hunched over the shredder for hours, hire an external shredding company to collect the paperwork and dispose of it securely. By using our services, you are saving yourself a lot of time and money while ensuring you stay compliant with the laws on data protection. One of our state of the art shredding vehicles can come directly to your office so you can witness your documentation being destroyed without leaving your premises. You will be presented with a certificate of destruction to prove your adherence to legislation, and your shredded paper will be taken away for recycling into new paper products – so it’s environmentally friendly as well!
Implement A Clean Desk Policy
Now that you have a paper-free office, you need to work on keeping it that way. Remaining paperless for a few days is relatively easy, but keeping up with a paperless office long term can be a difficult task. Clean desk policies are a great way of ensuring that no unnecessary paperwork is created. Clean desk policies include guidelines on paper use, specifically that no paperwork should be left on desks, no documents should be printed unless absolutely necessary and any paperwork should be destroyed or placed within a secure shredding cabinet as soon as it has been used. Thanks to advances in digital signature software and other programmes, there is now very little need for any document to be printed off in the average office. Any documents that are printed in house or delivered in paper format can be used, scanned into the system and then placed into a secure shredding console to await a routine shredding visit for maximum security.
Encourage Use Of Digital Collaboration Tools
In your journey from document overload into a paperless paradise, it’s important to not just swap a physical mess for a digital one. Management of your digital archives is important, so make sure you brief everyone within your business on the system, how it works and what you expect them to use it for. Encourage the use of digital tools like Evernote, Trello and Wrike for to-do lists, collaboration on projects and storage of miscellaneous documentation, rather than using post-it notes or notebooks. Instead of printing documents to work on as a group, suggest collaboration tools such as Google or Office 365 to allow multiple people to work on one document at once.
Depending on what type of business you run, you may not be able to avoid paper coming into your office, or being generated there. But what you can do is ensure that no paperwork is kept longer than necessary and that everything is shredded once it has been digitised, saving you space and money. For more information on how we can help you go and stay paperless, or to book your own paperwork in to be shredded, get in touch with us today.