Becoming a Paperless Office: Create a Clear System to Manage Electronic Documents

According to a study by the CAP Venture Group, it is estimated that 80% of information is still retained on paper even though more than 80% of the documents we work with are already in a computer somewhere. According to Xerox, approximately 30% of printed documents are for one-time use only and further studies found that about 45% of documents printed in a typical office are thrown away within 24 hours. Another Gartner study called “Electronic Document Management” revealed that the average document was copied between nine and eleven times.

One of the keys in gaining efficiencies in data management and increasing productivity is to reduce the paper workers manage. A key component to creating a paperless office is to create user trust in finding and accessing data electronically. Employees are inundated with data in multiple formats and finding it more and more difficult to manage the amount of data and be effective and efficient at their job. Without a consolidated system to manage data along with sound file structure and data management guidelines users will tend to keep a ‘backup’ copy of data and records in paper. Although paper does have its uses for work purposes such as reading, reviewing at meetings or processing data, it is not the optimal format to archive, store and file records and documents. When moving towards a paperless office it becomes even more vital that file structures, whether on a Shared Drive network or in a cloud-based system, is well-organized. It is also important that there is a clear and designated location to store data when there are multiple document and record systems available to users. Finally, data management practices need to be clearly defined such as document naming conventions, versioning, and data conventions.

To learn how to organize electronic files on the shared drive, download the report How to Organize Electronic Documents on Shared Drive Networks. Or you are welcome to contact us and we can assist you.

Productivity Blog Recommendations

Productivity Blog Recommendations

In order to support those New Year resolutions on being more organized and productive, take time to read from some experts on the subject. Here is a list of recommended productivity and organizational efficiency blogs:

Officiency: Ok, shameless plug, but we do offer a specialized focus on how to utilize technology to improve productivity including application resources and tips. Check out the categories to the right for various topics.

Zen Habits: Definitely one of the top blogs on simplicity and life balance. Leo Babauta is rated as one of the Top 25 blogs on productivity.

LifeHacker: LIfehacker has a series of topics it blogs on, one of which is productivity in the office and at work.

Your Life. Organized.: Monica Ricci, a professional organizer, based out of Atlanta writes on how to organize your life. She is witty and funny and always has some great tips.

ClutterDiet Blog: Lorie Marrero, author of the Clutter Diet book and program, includes hands-on videos to show you how to be more organized in your home and life.

David Allen: Author of Getting Things Done, David Allen, writes blog posts for the Huffington Post on personal and organizational productivity.

How to Purge Desktop and Office Paper

It is difficult to let go of paper data because we are not sure of its value in the future and the desire to have a tangible format. When purging paper, start with small chunks, such as one file drawer or one desktop pile to go through. It doesn’t need to be all done in one day or at one time. For most documents, users will be able to ascertain what to keep and what can be recycled. It is reasonable to keep some mementos of past history but keep it down to a small file folder size.

 Here are some questions to ask yourself to help deem what to keep in paper or purge;

  • Is there any action required?

If not, you can probably get rid of it.

  • Is it already saved electronically?

If so, then you recycle the paper.

  • Will the organization ever need, want or find value in this information again?

If yes, then consider scanning the information to store it electronically.

  • Is the information outdated and/or superseded?

If yes, then recycle it!

  • Is the information located on the organization Intranet network?

If quick reference to the document is not needed, then recycle the paper and access the data electronically.

  • Does the document or file have legal (current or future) implications?

If so make sure there is an electronic copy or it is scanned in.

  • Is there any legal retention requirement to keep the data?

Documents if saved in an electronic PDF format are sufficient for any legal requirements.

For more information on how you can become paperless in your office, read the article, Becoming Paperless for Effectiveness and Efficiency.  Contact us if you would like assistance in organizing your office or computer.

Mobile Work Environments: Establish Clear Expectations on Staff Schedules

Along with benefits of improved productivity and reduced commute time, there are challenges in remote, mobile and telework environments. All employees should have clear expectations from their supervisor on schedules working from home and being in the office. Ideally, there should be staff meetings to review these expectations so everyone is clear. Then, have a group or shared calendar that staff can post their leave and telework days.

Below are some questions for managers to facilitate the dialogue with staff;

  1. Should telework or remote work days be fluctuating or should they be relatively set?
  2. If a staff person wishes to switch telework days because of personal reasons, will that be acceptable? And in which circumstances?
  3. Should staff stagger their schedules so that the office is always covered?
  4. If there is an important meeting or training, and some of the staff are teleworking should it be required for them to come to the office for certain functions? If so, what type of functions?
  5. If there are staff who do not want to telework and work from home, will that be acceptable?
  6. How will the staff know who is teleworking or working remotely? (e.g. shared calendars, separate telework schedule or staff meetings)

If you require assistance in facilitating these discussions or would like to provide Working Remotely Effectively Trainings for your remote work force, contact us!

The Principles of Organization- Consistency

With any organizing system developed, it is important to apply the organizing principles in order to find what you need, when you need it. There are four primary principles of organizing; consolidation, categorization, creating a home and consistency. These principles can be applied to any area of your office and are key to consider before creating any new office system.

Consistency: Systems are only as good as they are used. The key is to remain consistent with maintaining systems and organizational habits. Effective and creative office, communication and filing systems can be formed but unless consistency in using and maintaining them occurs, the system will be useless. No one wants to take time to ‘get organized’ that is why it is important for individuals to create the habit to ‘be organized’. Organization should become a way of habit and not one more task on a list. Eventually the new habits will supersede the old ones and the principle of consistency will be employed.