As promised in my last post “The Day The Printer Died” I said I would give you some ideas on how you can start to go paperless in your office. It really is a great time to go paperless whether you are working out of your home office or have a small to medium sized business office. Let’s face it, printing has become a real chore what with having to buy the supplies, the maintenance of the printers and finally having to file & store all of that paper.
Did you know that Frederick Wilfrid Lancaster envisioned a “paperless society” way back in 1978, he even wrote a book on it, “Toward Paperless Information Systems” (make this a link). Well as we all know it’s not here yet but hopefully some of these tips will help you get started. But thanks to paperless technologies it just may be possible in the near future. It does clear clutter in your business but it also saves you money and is a great way for you to reduce you carbon footprint.
Let’s start with some of the Productivity Apps out there.
Ok, so you’ve gone completely paperless, or so you thought. How about when you, one of your employees or your bookkeeper needs to have a document with a signature on it? At these times you find yourself pressing the CTRL+P button to print, sign and then scan or fax the signed document to the proper entity.
This is where Hello Sign (make this a link) comes in. It lets you sign documents through your web Browser or mobile device without printing, scanning or faxing. It’s totally secure and the electronic signature is legally binding and even accepted by the IRS, can you believe that?
If your anything like me I have receipts, business cards and notes all over the place, on my desk, in my pockets and of course in my car. So of course one of the first steps in going paperless is getting rid of existing piles of paper. The Fujitsu ScanSnap (make this a link) scanner digitizes your paper receipts and anything else you want to save digitally.
What’s really cool about this though is you can connect this to a Shoeboxed Account (make this a link)! Using Shoeboxes will allow you create reports, edit data, label receipts and scan multiple pages at a time.
Why is it people still fax? I don’t get it but until absolutely everyone finally, like finally quits faxing stuff you can bet you will on occasion still have to send or receive a fax.
You can send & receive faxes without paper and without a fax machine. It lets you keep the exact same fax number but switches the entire process to online faxing via email. It allows your customers to still send faxes the old way, while you’ll lead the way with completely paperless faxing.
Using HelloFax (make this a link) the process will no longer be a pain and will be completely paperless!
Save the trip to the printer when you have to share documents with co-workers not only in the same location but literally across the globe if you so desire. With Google Docs (make this a link) which is a free service run through Gmail, you can work simultaneously with colleagues on a document or spreadsheet. The system will even let you “chat” with others viewing the document. One cool feature is it continuously saves so you’ll never lose your work. You have the option of downloading the files if you need to email them or print them God forbid. You can even compare an earlier version of a document at any time. For a free service you really can’t beat Google Docs to help you take one step closer to going paperless.
Paperless Statements and Bill Paying
Many of us still insist on getting our statements thru the mail which makes no sense anymore. Most banks if not all now offer paperless statements and even provide incentives for customers to manage their account online. Pay your bills online and save on paper, checks, envelopes and the time it takes employees to coordinate invoices, checks and mailings. If you’re a merchant you could use an app like Square (make this a link) to accept payments through your smartphone. You can also email receipts for customers instead of printing them
Take Digital Notes
With the wide range and ever growing note taking apps out there why would anyone want to use another Post-it? It makes one wonder if the Post-It note will go the way of the way of the slide rule, their just comes a time when a product has run its course and something else better takes its place. You have text only options such as SimpleNotes (make this a link) to more sophisticated offerings such as EverNote (make this a link) and Microsoft OneNote. Some have touchscreen and stylus support that lets you enrich notes with sketches and diagrams and all notes are saved to the cloud.
Reduce Where You Can’t Eliminate
The unfortunate reality is that we all face situations where paper printouts are unavoidable or we work with partners and clients who require them. When you’re faced with these situations there are still things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. Use duplexing where ever you can, it’s just like using 50% less paper. Find a font that is known to save on ink and set it as you default font, you’d be surprised at how much this can save you in a year. Think about switching to Eco-friendly printer cartridges, these have come a long way from when they first came out. They use the spent cartridges and remanufacturer them to OEM specs, but be away you get what you pay for. You can find fantastic deals on line but it’s the “you get what you pay for” deal. Find a reputable dealer that backs up their product with a rock solid warranty, is easy to contact and has a excellent replacement and return policy.
While the paperless society remains elusive for most of us adopting processes that puts the emphasis on digitization will help us to get closer and closer to the ideal.