Tech Note

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The “paperless office” term has been around for years, yet for many of us, the reality of it has not yet arrived.  At a time when almost every employee has access to a computer terminal, it’s strange that more hasn’t been done to reduce the usage of paper in some workplaces.  One big reason is, up until now, completely eliminating paper may not have been economical or even practical for everyone. The realities of paper in our society forced even the most tech-savvy businesses, even start-ups with no legacy processes and habits, to contend with external forces such as client needs and regulatory or legal requirements, and to some extent does even today.  We are lucky now that with technology improving every day, we have opportunity for change.

With this in mind, here are 7 basic tips to make sure you are currently taking the basic steps for significantly reducing your paper usage. These are not new ideas and some you may already be using but have a read and consider if there is room for improvement in your office!

1. The first step toward reducing paper usage is simply emphasizing the move toward reducing paper usage with your employees. Bring the concept to “top of mind” with your staff frequently… do they need to print, how can systems and processes be changed to reduce the paper use?

2. Make it less convenient to print. Reduce the number of printers in your office by consolidating smaller, low-end machines with printers capable of higher print volumes at a central location. Make sure there are no printers on desks. Employees are less likely to print frivolously and has the added benefit of improving cost effectiveness – less printers, less cartridges & less paper.

3. Request paperless statements from banks and service providers such as the telecommunications company and save them in your system. Make a conscious effort to pay bills online, too, as this reduces not just the use of cheques & envelopes needed to post them but also improves overall productivity.  See Carly to assist with paying bills and Super online – directly from your MYOB file!

4. While it’s decidedly low-tech, actively advocating a culture of reuse and recycling can modify prevailing attitudes toward paper usage. An empty box for collecting non-confidential documents for recycling can help, as do email signatures that discourage the unnecessary printing of emails messages.

5. One of the simplest remedies is to generate reports directly in PDF format, which can be reviewed on desktop, laptop, tablet or even smartphone.  This also means that your documents are saved electronically so you can easily share documents with staff & clients, save & search documents on your system and reduce paper & storage costs.

6. Consider a dual or multi-monitor setup. One common reason that workers print documents is the need to cross-reference them with another document.  Giving employees two (or three) screens provides more digital access and offers a productivity boost at the same time. LCD monitors typically outlast computer upgrades, too, so this is once-off cost to improve productivity and reduce paper use.

7. For the inevitable paperwork that must be printed, using both sides can cut paper usage by half. Make sure you set all computers settings so the default  is duplex printing.  Single sided is still an option but then only used as necessary rather than all of the time.

Successfully reducing the use of paper isn’t a one-time event. It’s a series of continuous efforts to move away from paper and establish a culture that frowns on waste. Have a review of your current paper usage and business processes to see how your office can  reduce its use of paper.

Adapted from a Story by Paul Mah CIO.

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