Six steps towards the paperless office


Date: 26 May 2011

Waste paper bins

Waste paper bins. Photo from orphanjones under Creative Commons.

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Reducing how much paper your business uses is one of the easiest ways to go a bit greener, cut costs, and perhaps even improve your productivity.

  1. Use printer paper more efficiently. This goes beyond vaguely asking people to print fewer documents. Check your default margins, fonts and letterhead to see if you can save space without sacrificing readability. Make sure your printers are set to print double-sided by default, and save any single-sided printouts for rough work or printing draft copies.
  2. Improve online collaboration. You won't have to ask people to print less if the act of printing already feels redundant. Try a platform such as Microsoft's SkyDrive to share, edit and discuss documents online with ease.
  3. Hold paperless meetings. Most people chuck away agendas after a meeting, so present them at the beginning instead of handing them out. Having a designated note taker frees everyone else to focus on contributing to the meeting while also saving paper. You can put the notes into a common online workspace so that everyone can edit refer to them later.
  4. Ditch the fax machine. Even if you have moved firmly into the digital age, some companies that you do business with may be lagging behind. But you can use your computer to send and receive faxes as digital images, reducing paper use at your end and streamlining your communications.
  5. Reduce junk mail. Contact an environmental organisation that specialises in reducing junk mail, thus cutting the amount paper in your office while saving you the hassle of throwing it away.
  6. Try a Tablet PC. You can write notes on it as you go and record meetings for later playback alongside your notes. Maybe you'll be able to ditch your paper notebook altogether.

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