Becoming a Paperless Office: The Cost, Environmental and Efficiency Benefits

There is a clear environmental need for paperless offices. The paper industry is one of the world’s major polluting industries and one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases with over 900 million trees cut done annually. The EPA reports that paper is the number-one material thrown away, comprising 40% of our waste stream. According to the National Resources Defense Council, “The pulp and paper industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any other industry in the world.”

In addition to environmental impacts, paper is time consuming to manage. Record keeping constitutes more than 90% of all office activity. Studies indicate that of the paper filed, over 80% is never referenced again! One Xerox study showed that over 45% of the office paper that is discarded was thrown out on the day it was printed. A great deal of time is being wasted printing, sorting, purging, and filing paper.

Then there is the cost aspect of paper. According to the Association for Information and Image Management, the lifecycle cost of a document is over $20, which includes the cost of paper, printing, mailing, distribution, and handling fees. An older study done by Coopers and Lybrand in 1998 (now Price Waterhouse and Coopers) estimated the cost of paper management to be about $50 per document. In addition it takes up valuable real estate, it is estimated that it costs on average $314 per filing cabinet solely for the space it consumes in an office.

Essentially becoming a paperless office could reap the benefits of improved efficiency and effectiveness, reduce cost, and improve the brand and image of the company by becoming a better corporate environmental steward.

Let us help you become the paperless office through our consulting services or our Becoming a Paperless Office training. Contact us to learn more!

Become Paperless: Request all documents electronically

According to a study by Xerox, approximately 30 per cent of printed documents are for one-time use only.  Often our colleagues will put in our desktop ‘in box’ a hard copy of a document. Or often the paper pile-up happens through meeting and training handouts. This is usually based out of user habit or simply people thinking their colleague might be more apt to read it if it is in paper. Ask your colleagues to send you all information via e-mail or other electronic means, and then you can determine if you need to print it or not. Many of the statements and information we receive from vendors can be received electronically, if only ask and request it. Remember almost all data is created in an electronic format so make sure you get it that way and reduce your own paper pile up!

Organizing Documents in the Cloud for Mobile Devices

With the increase in technology devises it is becoming more of a need to have documents and data stored in a central cloud based area that all mobile devices, such as Smart Phones, ipads, tablets and laptops can connect to. Most individual users who have Google accounts can store up to 1 GB free. Google just launched Google Drive in April 2012 which is intended to lure more Google customers to use Google for their document storage. There are other options such as DropBox, Microsoft SkyDrive and SugarSync. Below is a comparison table that outlines these options and some of the features and cost with each.

 

Features

Google Docs

Google Drive

DropBox

SugarSync

Microsoft SkyDrive

Apple iCloud

Free Storage 1 GB 5 GB 2 GB 5 GB 7 GB 5 GB
100 GB Storage Cost Free $4.99/ month $19.99/ month $14.99/month $4.16/month ($50/year) $100/ year (only 55 GB)
Operating Systems Windows/ Mac/ Android Windows/ Mac/ Android Windows/ Mac/ Android Windows/ Mac/ Android Windows/ Mac Remote Access/ iphone/ ipad
File Sharing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
File Systems Must upload documents. Need to create ‘collections’ to file documents Will sync data but need to create ‘collections’ to organize documents. Retains original file system from local drive Retains original file system from local drive. Can email files directly to profile Retains original file system from local drive Works great for Mac uses and Apple mobile devises.
View/ Edit Can edit and create files within Google Apps.  Can only view MS office docs, not edit Can edit and create files within Google Apps.  Can only view MS office docs, not edit Can only view and not edit online. Can only view not edit online. Can view and edit online all MS office docs n/a

Some good articles to learn more about document storage for mobile devises;

Google Heads to the Cloud for Storage, Wall Street Journal.

Google Drive’s Six Substantial Slip-ups, PC Magazine

Google Drive Launches, PC Magazine

Online Storage Comparison, Life Hacker

Clearing the Paper Clutter in Your Office

It is hard to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, especially in the information age. We seem to be consuming more paper than ever. According to the HP Internet Printing Index survey workers say they print pages from the Internet an average of 32 pages a day. US companies still file 120 billion sheets of paper annually. Since over 80% of the paper we file is never referenced again, it makes sense to purge your desk and filing cabinets to get a fresh start.

Consumer Research Institute reports that the average American throws away 44 percent of their junk mail unopened. In addition we sometimes pick up information, just because it is information. Ask yourself, “Do I really want it?”, before collecting more paper in your office. The reality is that we are creating our own paper pile up nightmare! Seize the day and throw away!

Some documents need to be kept. For example, financial and tax documents need to be kept for the IRS for 7 years. Often you need to keep paper documents only for a short period of time, but can then dispose of it because you have a record of it electronically. Create a “pending/waiting” box on your desk for such papers that you only need temporarily. Then you can periodically purge it as the issue resolves itself.