Have you truly embraced the digital age? Today’s entrepreneurs can work from anywhere in the world. With the advent of globalization, on-the-go consumerism, and increased mobility an increase in remote working, virtual employees and multiple offices is a new workplace reality.
With these changes, the need for more effective and productive workflow practices becomes essential. And the simplest way to transform and refresh your home, commercial, or mobile office is to go paperless.
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While customer-facing activities (i.e., sales, marketing, etc.) may require paper, your back office systems (i.e., operations, administration, etc.) will likely need a digital upgrade. Back office operations are seldom prominent, but every entrepreneur quickly learns that they are a major contributor to business (and often a robust cost center).
By going paperless, not only can you implement green initiatives, you can rid your office of distracting clutter. So, whether you are passionate about the planet, or need a more efficient back office, these tips will reduce the amount of paper used in your office and associated costs.
1. Reduce postal mail clutter
Opening, sorting, and routing incoming mail is a time-consuming task. Wouldn’t it be nice to receive mail online and open it anywhere, anytime? A virtual mailroom can act as a remotely managed mailroom, document center, payment processor, and more.
2. Take notes online
You (or administrative support staff) are likely to spend a lot of time answering telephones, directing calls and taking messages. Most of those messages end up on note pads or random sticky notes. Instead, encourage your team to take notes from their browser.
Online note sharing software empowers employees to share and collaborate with others in real-time and best of all — you can reach their notes from anywhere. Online sticky note web apps like listthings and Notely make it easy to capture quick ideas and messages.
3. Throw out that old facsimile machine
When you’re on the go you don’t always have time to find a fax machine. As Tom Foremski explains: “they were huge in the 1970s and 1980s and still vital in the early 1990s, but the Internet, email and instant messaging has downgraded fax machines to slow, bulky, low-quality copy machines.”
Instead, send and receive faxes by email from any mobile device or computer using online services like eFax, MyFax or HelloFax. Meanwhile, the next time you receive an eFax, sign PDF documents online using DocuSign or FillAnyPDF and a Wacom Bamboo Pad.
4. Reduce printing of multiple handouts
When you brainstorm with your team it is not uncommon to print several copies to handout and review. Instead, manage documents and improve collaboration with Google Docs. With online document management tools you can create and share your work online and access your documents (spreadsheets, presentations, surveys, and more) from anywhere.
5. Replace day planners and desk calendars
When you’re on the go — travel light. When you’re in the office, replace your desk calendar with an online calendar. Instead of lugging around bulky day planners, apps like ToDoist (a free to-do list and task manager) and Google Calendar (a free online calendar) can help you manage work schedules and calendars; and arrange appointments from your tablet with ease.
6. Get rid of shoe boxes full of receipts
Do you keep business expense receipts in a shoe box? If so, it’s time to do yourself (and your accountant) a favor and embrace the cloud. Turn piles of business expense receipts into organized and actionable data using Expensify, Shoeboxed or Neat Receipts. With organized receipts you can transform bookkeeping tasks and tax time into a hassle-free affair.
7. Embrace online banking and accounting
Are your bookkeeping ledgers filed away in dusty boxes? Are paper bank statements piling up by the minute? If so, consider migrating basic bookkeeping and banking transactions online. These days, most commercial banks offer online business banking. Meanwhile, cloud accounting software like Kashoo, FreeAgent, Sage One, and others can help you work smarter and faster.
8. No more binders please
Are you a binder addict? If so, you may want to consider an easier way of storing company manuals, procedures, files and more. Increase overall productivity and collaboration by deploying an intranet.
You may think that intranets are for large corporations, but the reality is this: every small business could use an intranet. Intranet software providers like Bloomfire or Axero offer turn-key solutions. An intranet can centralize company documents, instructions, contact lists, policies and procedures – all in one place. Most importantly, by using a small business intranet you can ensure information is up-to-date.
9. Trash paper file archives
Create a digital filing system and free up more room in your office. Scan files using apps like CamScanner or desktop scanners (e.g., NeatConnect) to scan directly to email and cloud services wirelessly.
10. Leverage interoffice email
Whenever possible, sending an email will reduce a significant amount of paper usage. As Gaiam Life writer E.C. LaMeaux explains, “You can discourage making paper “hard copies” by reminding employees they can always save their documents on the hard drive of their computer or to a computer disc.”
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