The paperless office has been a long time coming…like 30 years or more.
The paperless office dream has been around for longer than many of its youngest workers.
But ask any millennial or Gen-Z for that matter and they’ll quickly tell you that it’s not true, especially if you work for a large, legacy company.
It seems like it’s been a lifetime to make that actual shift and AI may finally be pulling us in that direction.
But you don’t have to wait for the robots. You can embrace the paperless revolution right now.
Yes, it’ll be hard. And there will be a few tough diehards to break down. However, just think of the benefits:
- Faster access to info: No more cabinets or hefty, large folder boxes. You can stop renting out that extra floor just for files. And your team will have access to the documents and files wherever they go–from a sales trip to working from home.
- More security: Your office doesn’t have to be a heist movie where the small-time crook creeps into the office after-hours to grab a few stray damning files or spilling your top secrets. Going digital makes your files simultaneously more secure and accessible.
- Save time: It’s a lot easier to do a search for files once they’re stored in the clouds or on a server. You can specifically find what you’re looking for without a hunt and peck for a solution. More space: Digital storage is not only about saving space on that extra floor; it’s also about compounding and eliminating the clutter on your desk or in desk drawers. Moving to a paperless office helps you do this.
1. Make printing more difficult
How easy is it to print? To go all-in on the paperless office, you’ll need to slice your printing. This may mean cutting it off at the source. Get rid of printers and see what happens. Or at least make it way more difficult. Like only giving printer access to managers or the C-Suite. That way you’ll be sure that only the most important things are printed.
2. Request paperless statements
You can’t control all of the mail that you receive, but one thing you can do is ask for paperless statements. This will help you consolidate your bills from services and vendors and allow you to pay and reply to invoices by email or in an online portal.
3. Signature on file
Or, you if you have a WordPress website you could try a self-hosted, e-signature platform like WPESignature by ApproveMe.com. It will allow you to collect signatures from clients and colleagues on important contracts quickly and securely (and you own your data).
4. Scan your bills and expenses with your phone or a real scanner
Another way to eliminate paper in your office is to scan your bills and invoices once they do come in the mail, then ditch the original. You are creating your own paperless statements this way.
If your sales team is out on the road, have them save their receipts with an app like Expensify. It cuts down on the paper clutter and streamlines your expense and accounting process.
5. Scan business cards
Do this at a tradeshow or sales meeting, and you’re sure to come away with a fistful of business cards that you’ll only need a few times. Once you have the number, you won’t need them anymore. Business cards make exchanging information much easier and is still a necessary accessory in many circles. However, you won’t help yourself if these get lost in your backpack or briefcase. The easy way is to take a photo, but are you syncing the right emails and phone numbers?
A tool like ABBYY stores your business cards, connects the information to your contacts, and also creates a digital business card for you.
6. Set up folders and files for your scanned documents and information
The next step in establishing your paperless office is to have a digital repository to store all of your information. This will depend on your needs. Maybe you need a specific invoicing program (like QuickBooks or Wave) to help with your receipts.
For documents, think about a cloud-based knowledge management system such as Google Drive, Dropbox or even ClickUp.
Yep, ClickUp now has documents. You can create and link specific documents to a Folder, List or task. Your documents can now match with the projects and tasks they’re meant to support.
7. Turn files into editable documents
Another way to help your document workflow is to turn all of your PDFs into editable documents. This way, you won’t have to print as much. You can fill in your info, sign the document and send it back.
8. Name and tag your documents
Now that you’ve turned your papers into a digital file, you’ve got to keep up with it. If storing attachments and images in ClickUp, you can edit the names of the images to maintain a similar naming convention. When your attachments are within a task, tag the task to find it later. You may want to make it specific to a document, such as “Feature Project Plan” or “New Sales Deck”.
9. Replace the fax machine with PDFs or an online fax
Whrrrr….another fax? What a waste of paper. The fax process is often baked into company’s invoicing culture or used as an official document transmittal. Old habits die hard. If your office is a little old school and you still have a fax machine, consider ramping up to an online fax to stop the constant hum.
10. Rewrite and store internal documents on the cloud with ClickUp
At some point, you may need to take all of those paper internal documents and give them a an update. ClickUp has you covered here with Doc views and embeddable links, if you use a tool like Dropbox or Google Drive. Your wiki/knowledge management is simplified. These docs will live right next to the Folders and tasks for easy reference.
11. Move tasks and communication to ClickUp
If you’re sending emails or even paper airplanes (I mean tasks…) across your office, ClickUp can help you there, too. You can set up tasks and organize them with Folders, keeping related tasks together.
And if you’re into the Kanban method, you can dump the sticky notes and switch to ClickUp. With ClickUp, you won’t have to worry about another team throwing your notes in the trash or erasing the whiteboard.
You can also host conversations in ClickUp to discuss any topics that may come up with your projects. Just select a new view and choose “Conversation.” This will be linked to a specific project. If you mention someone in the conversation, it will appear in their Notifications, and they can directly respond from there. With ClickUp, even your conversations will be organized.
More than a pipedream, the paperless office can be a reality.
Even if it seems far-off and nearly impossible.
With a few tools and a dedicated productivity platform to store your tasks, attachments, and documents, you’ll be even more organized than you expected.
Zack is a Client Success Champion at ClickUp, where he supports teams around the world to be more productive. When he’s not helping clients solve the worlds problems he is watching movies and hanging out with friends and family. If you are lucky you might also catch him DJing at your local nightclub.