Paper was once considered a necessity for office work. But it’s also a nuisance.
In the typical office setting, paper is virtually everywhere. It covers every desktop, fills every filing cabinet, and spills out of recycling bins and trash cans. It’s tacked on walls, pinned on bulletin boards, and shoved in pockets. It’s also lost, misplaced, and misused on occasion.
When you think of your own office, consider how much space you use simply organizing papers for later reference. It’s overwhelming, right?
There are many reasons why more and more offices have decided to go paperless. Paperless alternatives are economical, earth-friendly, efficient, and fairly easy to implement. With a paperless system, it’s simpler to find what you need when you need it. And, of course, paperless filing is more secure too.
If you’re worried that going paperless at work will be an intimidating process, don’t fret! This guide will walk you through the process step-by-step, and we’ll even include some handy tools to help you get started.
Step-by-Step Guide to Going Paperless at Work
So, you’ve got files everywhere and more paper coming to your inbox every day. How can you possibly organize all this paper into digital files? We’re so glad you asked. Believe it or not, paper isn’t an invincible enemy. It’s more like a pet that needs to be trained to obey, and that may take a little time. But it’s not difficult.
1. Rally the Troops
First, you need to get your team onboard. Gather everyone who regularly handles paperwork and let them know the plan: you’re going paperless. Tell them it may be a slow transition, but you appreciate their help making the switch.
2. Keep It Simple
You may get a little pushback from employees at first. This is normal. Most people are accustomed to using paper for everything, and old habits die hard. That’s why it’s best to make things as easy as possible. Lay out a clear plan with a list of best practices moving forward.
“Paperless” means different things for different offices, but here are some basic ideas:
• Scan invoices and store digitally using keywords or tags for easy search.
• Pay invoices via bank transfer or credit card.
• Use digital systems for invoice approvals or purchase orders.
• Use digital deposit for checks and cash. Store credit card receipts digitally.
• Email invoices or customer receipts when possible.
• Use payment kiosks for credit card transactions.
General Office Procedures
• Store reports digitally.
• Email when possible. Avoid mail or printouts unless absolutely necessary.
• Use note-taking apps instead of sticky notes and “to do” lists.
• Set up email to organize incoming information into manageable folders.
• Use digital calendars for reminders and employee scheduling.
• Consider using tablets or other devices for taking orders, etc.
3. Start Now
You may think it’s best to make the paperless switch when you have time to organize all your current paperwork.
That’s a great way to make sure the switch never happens. As humans, we tend to procrastinate, and something will almost always seem more important than digitizing your paperwork. Instead, start now and work on the older stuff later. If you’re not sure where to start, the inbox is always a safe bet. Don’t have an inbox? Gather all the papers on your desk and start with the top of the stack. Or, you can choose one simple process and start there.
4. Trash Old Files
Once your paperless system seems to be running smoothly, you can start tackling those old paper files. First, set a “trash” date. You don’t need to keep old files forever. Talk to your accountant to determine how long you should keep tax documents, receipts, invoices, and other information. Then trash or shred anything older than this date.
For the files you need to keep, start digitizing the most recent paperwork first, then work your way backwards.
5. Ask for Solutions
As you’re making the switch, remember to ask your vendors and associates for their paperless options. Many offices have paperless correspondence available, but fail to mention the options to others. You may be surprised to find how simple things can get when you ask for paperless solutions.
Helpful Tools to Make Going Paperless Simple and Easy
Wishing you had some help to make going paperless at work simple and easy? Good news – help is on t