It’s a fair bet that somewhere in your office there are boxes or folders of documents that you keep either because of some regulatory requirement or ‘just in case.’ Those bits of paper take up valuable storage space and represent a risk to your business.
If they’re lost, you might find it hard to comply with a direction from the tax office or some other authority to produce information. Or, if the worst happens and there’s a fire in the office, you’re storing lots of fuel.
So, how can we reduce the amount of paper you store and deal with?
The Preview application that’s been part of OS X since the days of NeXTSTEP – the operating system that the Mac OS X evolved from.
While you probably use it for viewing PDFs and other files, you might not be familiar with its editing capabilities.
If you receive a document, you can annotate and edit it using Preview’s tools. There’s even a tool for adding your electronic signature.
What that means is that when you receive an electronic document, you can sign and date it, save it and email it off without having to print anything. That saves you paper, ink, time and storage space in the office.
Hello (right) is part of the Evernote family of programs. It’s an iPhone app that takes photos of business cards, recognises the text within them and then adds the contact record to your address book.
It even searches for the contact on LinkedIn and lets you connect as well as emailing your contact details to your new acquaintance.
All the cards and data is stored within Evernote so you can access the cards from that application as well.
ScanSnap is both a software and hardware solution. Fujitsu’s ScanSnap scanners have developed an excellent reputation. They can scan double sided documents in seconds, sending the content either to your file system, email or into Evernote for storage.
We’ve been using a ScanSnap scanner for some time now. Scanning and saving documents takes but a few seconds and, as we have an Evernote Premium account, all the scanned files undergo automatic text recognition so that they can be full text searched.
The end result – we haven’t stored a single scrap of paper for months.
4. Email and PDFs
In theory, the advent of email should have resulted in a reduction in the amount of paper we use. But that’s not been the case.
If you want to reduce the amount of paper flowing through your office, start by reducing the amount you produce. When you create a document or spreadsheet that will be shared, use the Print command and choose the ‘Email PDF’ option.
That will ensure that the file you send will retain its layout and integrity.
5. Equip your team
If you want to reduce the amount of paper being used in the office, equip your team with large screens that make it easy to read and edit documents on screen so there’s no need to print. Also, educate your teams in the use of the reviewing tools that are part of all commercial office applications these days and acquaint yourself with cloud-based collaboration systems such as Office 365, Google Docs and iCloud so that teams can work on files collaboratively without the need for lots of paper copies.
It’s not that hard to reduce your dependence on paper. With a little planning and small investment, you can make the shift to paperless without compromising productivity.