binders full of paper stacked on top of each other

How to Transition to a Paperless Office

Paper, paper everywhere and not a page I need.

You may be looking around your office right now and seeing reports, invoices, receipts, and a whole host of other paper scattered about. Even if you’ve got it organized well, it can be overwhelming to find what you need. And that’s to say nothing about the amount of money you’re spending in office supplies.

On the other hand, a paperless office can be efficient, effective, and reduce the amount of stress you get from staring at a mountain of paper all day.

We know that transitioning to a paperless office takes time, time that you think might be better spent doing client work. But making a small time investment now can save your business big long-term. A well-planned paperless approach can reduce overhead costs like printing, mailing, and storage space. And just think about what you could do with all the space that is taken up by filing cabinets and boxes of papers from 15 years ago.

Here’s how to transition to a paperless office.

Spend Time and Money upfront to Save in The Long Run

You need to have a good idea of where you are using paper so you can investigate other options to replace them. Which parts of your organization use the most paper? Is your billing department using paper invoices? Does your design team prefer hard copies of their designs to mark up?

Most likely there is a digital solution to all your problems (well at least your paper problems). But know that not all of these options are free. If you’re serious about getting rid of the paper tornado that has become your office, then you may need to throw a little cash at it. Replace your paper invoices with accounting software that can accept online payments. Use a digital document review tool to replace the review process of design files.

Before you begin the process of going paperless, you also need a plan for what to do with all your existing paper. It’s one thing to move to a paperless work environment for the future, but what about all the old documents you have now? For many offices, the answer comes in the form of a document scanner and a document shredder (in that order).

As you are going through old documents stuffed in drawers, don’t be afraid to shred things you don’t need anymore. Just don’t go too crazy with your paper purge. Make sure you’re aware of your industry’s compliance rules.

Set Expectations

Going paperless won’t work unless everyone in your office is on board. If you’ve got one or two people rolling their eyes at the whole process, then it will be challenging to achieve your goal.

Ensure that your team members can see the benefit to themselves and the organization as a whole. Show them how this will improve productivity by making information easier to access, secure, and manage.

Old habits die hard, so make the transition as easy as possible by providing training on new digital solutions. If your team doesn’t understand how to use the tools at their disposal, they’ll simply fall back into their old, paper ways.

Set a Deadline

Now that you have a plan and have everyone on board, it’s time to get serious. As with any of your other professional projects, you need a reasonable deadline but firm. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have a deadline for a project, then I’ll never get it all the way finished.

Your deadline will, of course, depend on the size of your organization. There’s no possible way an office of 100 people could go paperless in a month. Don’t be too aggressive with your deadline or you might risk adding stress to your team

Try encouraging everyone by setting up deadlines for smaller goals within your ultimate timeline. You may even want to set up some kind of reward initiative for when the goal is met. Perhaps focus on one department at a time, and as they go paperless, they get a day off for all their hard work.

Use a File Sharing Solution

Once you have all your files digital, how are supposed to file and organize them? A file sharing solution is the best option. Digital storage is a more organized, cost-effective, and eco-friendly approach than the traditional four-drawer filing cabinet.

A file sharing solution like SmartFile gives you the ability to index all your files for easy access. No more digging through drawers. You can utilize powerful advanced search options to search your content to help you find indexed content within your documents. Along with search, SmartFile also offers an instant filter feature that will narrow the results through dates and file size.

Another benefit of a file sharing solution is the ability to provide a client portal. SmartFile gives your clients, consultants, and other external users an easy way to upload and share files through your branded site.

A paperless work environment might be hard to imagine, but the flexibility of digital file access and deliverability is becoming a crucial part of increasing efficiency and lowering cost in today’s business world.

SmartFile is a business file mangement platform that gives you more control, compliance and security.