Once upon a time when computers were new, there was great excitement about workplaces going paperless. It was dubbed “the office of the future”. We expected to greatly reduce paper consumption as we take our filing and operations to the new and exciting digital world. Here we are decades later and the office of the future is still far away. Statistics show that paper consumption in offices had generally been increasing. Advancements in printing technology negated the chance for offices to go paperless and completely transition to digital, despite the additional power of the internet. According to the 2018 report on the paper industry, the global estimate for paper use recently exceeded 400 million tons per year. More than a quarter of this number is said to be for printing and writing alone. That’s more than 100 million tons of paper! To put that in perspective, it takes 12 trees to make one ton of non-recycled paper, which equals to 1.2 billion trees cut down just for printing and filing solutions. Don’t wait for the future. Create it. Progress has been slow on the global scale, but many workplaces around the globe are transitioning or are now completely paperless. This is mostly due to advances in digital technology specific to business operations. Owners are learning the numerous benefits in taking their operations to the cloud, addressing environmental issues and also saving some money along the way. Now if you’re just about ready to take your office to the future, you’re in luck. Taking advantage of this win-win situation is easier now than ever before, with an assortment of software, mobile apps and web services available on the internet. It will help to break down your day-to-day operations to find out where you can apply paper-saving measures to start your transition. #1 Mail, newsletters and memos There are hundreds of digital solutions available online to facilitate information exchange within and outside the office. Of course, email is already a staple to any workplace, replacing traditional mail including newsletters and subscriptions. Google Drive, Dropbox and project management softwares also allows fast document transfer without the need for printing and delivery, saving money and time. For files that require signatures such as contracts or memos, you can capture signature using online tools. Apart from being convenient, digital signatures also add security to the document by using encryption technology. This prevents tampering and keeping the document’s integrity. #2 Invoice and receipt Convince your clients and customers to opt into an e-invoice and receipt method. You can let them continue receiving paper if they choose, or you can strictly enforce your no-paper policy. Support it with a simple PR campaign that highlights eco-friendliness and sustainability. Customers love those buzzwords. Not only will you reduce or completely eliminate paper use, but you also save on stamps and courier fees. What’s more, your business will experience improved cash flow like what happened to Gene Marks in his business. Switching to paperless invoice means customers receive the invoice in an instant, cutting down the time from issuing the invoice to receiving the payment. Additionally, you can opt into e-invoice with all your service providers such as utilities. Use online banking to completely eliminates the need for paper in that department. #3 Data collection and forms Instead of handing out forms, you can capture customer or visitor information via digital portals. Place tablets or touch screen monitors at your front desk or make them available on your website’s landing pages. Better yet, use lead generation plugins available through Google or WordPress. For scanned forms or any pdf file that needs filling out, there are web-based services that do not require software download. You can complete tax or other forms already available on the website. It works even for documents without fields to fill in. #4 Hiring and training There many services online that the company can use in the process of selecting, hiring and training new employees. LMS’s, for example, makes onboarding a simple and efficient process that does not require printing hundreds and hundreds of pages of manuals. While in the topic of training, you can also assess your teams’ knowledge of certain policies or give refresher courses to management using online assessment tools. The immediate results available at the end of the paperless assessments can let the company respond more quickly to address any issues or perhaps narrow down the pool of candidates for promotion. #5 Events management If your company is fond of events or if your business is all about it, reserving paper invitations for only the best of occasions will greatly cut your cost. Call, email, chat and use social media for informal events. For less formal affairs that require rsvp, you can speed up the process by using a text service that allows invited guests to simply text confirmation of attendance. You can view your responses online which neatly summarizes responses and lets you see who needs following up. No need to wait for responses over the mail, and you can focus your attention elsewhere more important. For formal events where the paper is more appropriate, avoid unnecessary pages and white spaces. Print only the necessary information but include a URL for them to see more information online. Conclusion Reducing paper consumption doesn’t just mean saving trees. It also means conserving the water and energy used in producing this material. Nature also gets a break from the reduction of waste byproducts like greenhouse gases and other toxic chemicals. If that’s not enough reason, think about how this will affect your finances. Consider this: how many reams of paper do you go through every week? How about every month or year? What about ink cartridges? Let’s not forget to mention the printers, scanners, and copiers needed to produce paper documents that would most likely obsolete within a few months. It is estimated that 45% of the paper we use in the office ends up in the trash by the end of the day. That’s like flushing money down the drain. In your day-to-day operations where you use a lot of paper, chances are that there is already a service online that can do exactly what you need. The only real challenge is taking that first step – deciding to go paperless – and you’ll find it gets easier as you realize the benefits in your finances. More importantly, you are taking part in protecting the trees and the environment. Customers love socially responsible and sustainable businesses.