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How To Adopt A ‘Paper-Light Office’ Approach

The idea of the ‘paperless office’ has been around for a long time now, and though big strides have been made in paper waste, the amount of paper shredding required by London offices is a good indication of the way we still have to come.

Last year, it was discovered that we used 400 million metric tonnes of paper, and the United Nations believe this is going to increase by 50 per cent, with the average employee using 10,000 sheets of paper a year.

While ‘paperless’ might be a stride too far realistically for many offices, how about a ‘paper light’ approach? Forbes have collated these tips for adopting this way of working in every office, which is not only good for the environment, but will also save your business money. After all, don’t forget to cost in toner, printer servicing, ink, as well as the time each employee spends printing or finding  and filing paper documents.

First up, you need to perform an audit of your paper usage. Review your expenses with your office manager to get an understanding of the cost to your business. There are also tools such as paper calculators that you can use online to help with this task.

Though it may sound like a gargantuan task, one of your first jobs moving forward is implement digital document storage management. This will requiring digitising all paper records that you currently store. This is likely to be best to be outsourced to a company that specialises in digitisation of documents through scanning, and while this might be an expense, maintaining a digital document storage will save the business money over time as opposed to paper documents.

With this change in your document storage, you also need to arm your employees with the digital skills in order that they can operate an office which doesn’t place such importance on paper, especially in regards to new technology which renders paper copies less important.

The most significant of these are digital signature programmes. These not only will help your office become more ‘paper-light’, as documents won’t have to be printed just to be re-scanned, it’s also believed that they can speed up turn around of documents by 80 per cent, giving your employees more efficiency in the use of their time.

Whether your a business owner or just part of a company which you wish was a little greener, motivation is one of the biggest hurdles for transforming a business’ approach to paper. For some companies, green credentials are a big motivator as they look to create a company which recognises its corporate responsibilities, but others don’t have a focus on green working at their core.

At a lower level, you can try to implement sustainable paper practises, such as encouraging staff to go paper free one day a week, or moving the printer to make printing more inconvenient for staff. Monitor the change in usage of paper after implementation and that may give you something to present to those higher up and affect more change in the business.

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