How to Go Paperless in an Office

Use email to distribute work memos rather than photocopies.
Use email to distribute work memos rather than photocopies. (Image: Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images)

With today's emphasis on using environmentally friendly practices, businesses around the world are altering their daily operations. One way businesses are looking to go green is to cut down their use of paper products. Doing so reduces the amount of paper used for printing and copying business materials. To create a paperless office environment, you will need to make use of technology as well as make adjustments to your everyday practices.

Things You'll Need

  • Word-processing software
  • Flash drives
  • Fax-to-email services
  • Glass or plastic plates and bowls

Use email and electronics to distribute office communications rather than paper products. Send out mass emails to your employees rather than printing out memos for each individual. Likewise, if materials accompany a company presentation, distribute PDF files of additional notes to be accessed on a laptop or iPad during presentations. Text and instant messages are also ways you can communicate with your employees without the use of paper. If printed materials are necessary, always print double-sided pages or use pages that have already been printed on one side.

Use stick-on labels rather than entire sheets of paper. Stick-on labels can serve as substitutes for cover pages that simply only serve to notify who the recipient of a fax is and what a fax is regarding.

Store all data on computers rather than in paper files. Upload all information to a server that can securely store all business information on your company network. Using programs like Microsoft Excel and Word can help ensure that employees can create and store all information on their desktops rather than in paper form. When doing so, ensure that all files are routinely backed up so that no data is lost in the event of a power outage or computer crash.

Provide employees with flash drives. Flash drives allow employees to transfer documents to one another without having to print them out. In the event of an Internet connection problem, flash drives will also come in handy as presentations can continue or work can be taken home without unnecessary printing. Instruct employees to always save their current projects to flash drives, which they can access on their laptops from any place they desire.

Notify clients of your paperless goals. Doing so will encourage clients to scan documents rather than printing and delivering them to you. Likewise, ask that they send you emails rather than using the postal service to communicate. Lastly, make use of fax-to-email services when working with clients who send communications via fax. These services convert faxes into emails, which employees can read on their computers instead of on paper.

Use glass or plastic instead of paper plates and bowls. Many offices stock paper products employees can use for lunch. If your office has a sink available, provide glass and plastic for your employees to use instead. You can also provide or encourage the use of reusable bottles and cups for use at the office cooler. Doing so will help to reduce your office's paper usage.

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