We are now more than a decade into the 21st century, and yet we have still not become the paperless office that was envisioned in 1978 by Frederick Wilfrid Lancaster, the renown Information Scientist. Recently there were reports coming out of North Carolina that the Department of Veterans Affairs Office literally collapsed, due to the significant amount of paperwork that was stored on the site. While our governments are suffering under the immense weight of hard copies, there are a myriad of tools readily available to lighten this load.

Thanks to the innovations of technology, many business owners can now bypass the incumbent headaches and decrease their environmental footprints while they go paperless. Not only does this help to declutter your office space, but it also saves you a ton of money- while sending a great PR message out to your customers and partners.

Here are five avenues to remove paper from your daily routine:

Internal Documents

Share your files with coworkers electronically without printing them out. You can do this easily by using several free cloud-based platforms available such as Box, Google Docs, Dropbox, One Drive and Office 365. Google Docs and Office 365 services allow you to work simultaneously on any spreadsheet or document project with employees and colleagues. Additionally, it also allows you to ‘Chat’ with any other person viewing the document, and continuously saves the document as you work, to prevent you from losing files and any editing you do on them. You can download the file at any time, from any device connected to the internet, and in the event a hard copy is needed you can also print one! If you are in the office with an Airprint enabled device, you can print your document right from your iPad or iPhone while standing in front of the device!

Basecamp, Slack and Asana ar also popular document sharing, project management and collaborating systems that are either free or low cost. Basecamp allows you to store documents and emails/conversations by topic, but unlike Google Docs it will not allow two colleagues to work on the same document simultaneously. Asana is a free project management software that allows you to track tasks and collaborate with several team members.

Paperless Statements and Bill Paying

The more online bill payments you set up or online bill payment options you offer your clients, the less money you will spend on envelopes, postage, invoices, checks, employee time and mailings. The added benefit is that running your office payments through online systems makes it far easier to track. Most banks tend to prefer paperless statements, and they provide incentives to customers to move to online banking.

Storage and File Sharing

Dropbox, Office 365 or any other file transfer system is an excellent investment if you are moving and storing large digital files. Dropbox allows for the creation of group folders for each member of your office. This allows you to quickly send files such as reports, PDF’s, image files and have it sync across all computers and devices. You can share to certain people or allow several people to share a folder. This method allows for everyone’s?folder within the company to be up to date with the latest info. YouSendIt is also an excellent option for sending large files.

Printouts and Meetings

There are several free services such as Doodle and SurveyMonkey that can conduct surveys and Meeting software such as TeamViewer and Join.me to schedule meetings for your office. Now, if you need access to certain documents for a meeting, no need to print them because you can present virtually using Google Hangouts on Air or TeamViewer. This allows you to remotely access any of your office computers using any computer or smart phone 24/7s. It also has features for presentations, file sharing, video transmissions, accessing whiteboards and other screen sharing applications. Essentially, with this office software there is no need to print a single handout for any pitch or presentation.

Faxing and Scanning

Most companies are reliant on scanning and faxing technologies (yes, people still fax!), despite the fact that there are several digital and online alternatives. With regards to faxes eFax.com is an online option that places all incoming faxes right into your inbox for less than $20 per month. Apps such as Scanner Pro by Readle allows you to turn your camera into a scanner and then convert the images to PDF format so that they can easily be emailed.

The bottom line here is that with the advent of technology came a myriad of smart digital tools that can be used to reduce your office paper waste, and improve the environment as a result.

We offer several solutions to help you go Paperless. The Fujitsu iX500 is an inexpensive and efficient way to do this!

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500

There are a few more considerations you need to make before going paperless in your office.

Storage: You need to consider where and how you will store these files and what kind of space you will need to do so.

Organization: You will also need to have an organizational plan that will ensure that each department runs smoothly with a new paperless system. The last thing you need is chaos and confusion.

Naming system: You will have to have a foolproof way of naming your files once you store them so that you don’t end up with 6 copies under the name ‘Johndoe.docx’. Ensure everyone is well apt at using the naming system or you will end up with a total catastrophe on your hands.

Ensure you work with your IT staff or Contact PDS to help you transition and maintain your digital files!