Before technology transformed the workplace, businesses were reliant on complicated filing systems and sheets of paperwork that were easily misplaced. Now, with cloud storage and file-sharing, collaboration is easier than ever, and all of your important documents are just a quick click away. While it can be challenging to transition to a paperless office, the benefits of going digital cannot be understated. So if you’re considering moving your business online, here are six tips for joining the digital revolution.
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1. Invest in a digital mailbox
Though email has proven to be a speedy and efficient form of communication, sometimes postal mail is still necessary. Luckily, with virtual mailboxes, regular mail can be just as convenient as your email. A digital mailbox is a mailbox you can rent at a mail center anywhere in the world, provided through a service like iPostal1. You can direct letters, packages, invoices, checks, and anything sent through the postal service to that digital mailbox. Once it reaches that mailbox, you can view and manage all of your mail from anywhere in the world.
A virtual mailbox allows you complete flexibility. If you’re constantly on the go, whether on business trips or leisurely travel, you never have to worry about missing mail. You’re not required to be at your place of business to open important letters or sign for large packages. Some virtual mailbox services will also deposit checks you receive directly into your bank account. Mail you trash is automatically shredded by your virtual mailbox service, and you never have to worry about taking the time to sort through junk mail. A virtual mailbox helps you save time and effort that could be better spent on other aspects of your business.
2. Copy documents with digital scanners
As you’re transitioning to your digital office, you might wonder what to do with all of your existing paper documents. Do you keep them filed away, taking up precious space in your office? With digital scanners, you can quickly move your paper documents online, joining your future digital files as a digital document. After being uploaded, you can store your most vital hard copies in a safe place and shred everything you don’t need anymore. Today, scanning a document doesn’t necessarily require new office equipment. In fact, scanning can be as easy as downloading an app.
3. Store files in the cloud
Cloud computing has been a mainstay in the business world for years. Many businesses are wary of switching to a cloud-based solution to store and organize files, but the benefits are endless. It can be costly to invest in cloud computing, but your return on investment will quickly pay off the initial costs. Cloud computing is also highly secure and allows your employees to work from any device, anywhere in the world. You no longer need bulky file cabinets filled with endless sheets of paper, taking up precious office space to keep files organized and on hand.
Storing files in the cloud doesn’t just reduce your company’s paper waste. Keeping all of your documents in a cloud makes it much easier to share vital information between teammates and facilitates collaboration between employees all over the company. With the cloud, you also have the ability to backup your essential documents. Should your internet crash or your technology fails, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll always have a copy of all of your files in the cloud.
4. Use electronic payroll and accounting software
Keeping track of every invoice and timesheet can be a headache. A cluttered desk with piles of paperwork to sort through makes it all too easy to overlook or misplace vital accounting documents. However, monitoring and maintaining your business’s financial responsibilities is easier than ever in a digital office.
Having a paperless office also allows you to keep track of your expenses easily. With digital receipts, being reimbursed for making large purchases for your office doesn’t necessitate holding on to strips of paper. Instead, you can ask for your receipt to be emailed to you, saving paper and physical storage space. If your business is service-based or a retail operation, you can incorporate digital receipts into your business model. Your customers will appreciate the efficiency of having their receipts emailed to them, and they’ll always be able to keep track of their spending.
5. Install energy-efficient office equipment
While switching to a digital office means your budget for paper expenses is virtually non-existent, you may see your energy bills rise substantially. With your employees suddenly working on digital devices, it’s understandable that your company’s energy consumption would skyrocket. However, it’s easy to avoid massive energy expense increases by switching all of your old office equipment out for newer, more energy-efficient choices.
Instead of traditional office fluorescent lighting, switch your lightbulbs out for LED lighting options. Not only does LED lighting last far longer than fluorescent bulbs, but it’s also highly energy efficient. Many other essential office equipment pieces have more energy-friendly counterparts. For example, switch your old printer out for an Energy Star-approved machine instead. Unplug equipment when it’s not in use and before the office empties out on weekends. Recycle all paper and old electronic devices. While it may take some money and effort, making the switch to new equipment will keep your office environmentally friendly and your energy bills down.
6. Move your marketing strategy online
Direct mail campaigns are now a relic of the past with the technological advances in business marketing. Deploying mass email and social media marketing campaigns can help you reach a far wider audience. Additionally, research shows that direct mail marketing and email marketing both have similar response rates. The low cost of emails makes it the far superior choice for reaching out to potential customers. Marketing to your current customers is far more straightforward as well. Gone are the days of envelope stuffing and paper waste. Instead, sending out email newsletters and being active on social media keeps you connected to your clients.
The bottom line
While the process of becoming a paperless office seems daunting, the boost in productivity and efficiency that comes with having a digitally focused office is well worth the effort. You’ll become more eco-friendly with less paper waste, and collaboration between employees and teams in your company will be effortless. Every business is different, so take the time to weigh the pros and cons of your company moving to become a paperless workplace.