What Does Earth Day Mean for Business in 2019?
Planting trees. Recycling. Going green. And, of course, going paperless at work. You’ve been hearing these things every Earth Day, every year for ages (or, since 1970, to be precise).
But after decades of talking about going paperless… what does it even mean in today’s digital age?
Much of business is already conducted electronically. Offices have taken steps to cut down on paper and embrace electronic documents—in network folders, on SharePoint, or in other digital systems. Filing cabinets are on their way out. Going paperless is surely just around the corner.
But the truth of the matter is…
Going Paperless Doesn’t Work
Have you stopped everyone at your organization from introducing paper? Probably not. Try as you might, you can’t control everyone. People will print electronic documents day in and day out. In fact, 47 percent of workers still use paper—even when a document arrives electronically.
You’ll never truly go paperless if you’re only focused on the documents. After all, changing your documents is the easy part. Changing the way your organization engages with them isn’t.
If you want going paperless to actually work, you’ll need to follow these two tips.
Earth Day Tip #1: Get to the Root of the Problem
Instead of being laser-focused on going paperless, get to the root of the paper problem.
People at your organization are printing electronic documents. How will you change their habits when it comes to printing and storing documents? What will you do to save your organization from printing documents and creating paper unnecessarily?
Change Employee Habits
One way you can change the habits of your coworkers is to follow the tips of the World Wide Fund for Nature. Think before you print—and encourage everyone else to, too. If you must print, re-use paper or print on both sides of the paper. (And recycle it afterwards.) Use technology—after all, it’s there for a reason.
Make it Easy with Technology
In fact, using technology can be the most effective way to get to the root of the problem. Here’s where your focus should be: letting people send you electronic information and managing electronic information—without involving any paper.
Use Earth Day to campaign for a digital office—and consider a document management system if you haven’t already.
Electronic document management systems (EDMSs) make it easier to get everyone at your organization on board with electronic documents. Here’s how: DMSs typically include the ability to route documents electronically. This removes the necessity of printing a paper document and manually routing it around an organization.
Accounts payable departments, for instance, use document management systems to manage invoices electronically. Instead of printing invoices and manually processing them, the DMS makes it easy to keep the invoice electronic. Employees are notified that an electronic invoice is ready for review and the system prompts them for approval on the screen. This helps to discourage printing. And saves a lot of time.
Ensure People Actually Use the EDMS
If you do already have an electronic document management system, then consider the ways your coworkers create documents. Though electronic documents are increasing at most organizations, the culture around documents isn’t. Some people at your organization are still printing.
Next, put processes into place to stop them from creating documents in paper form. Show your coworkers why they should embrace electronic documents—instead of defaulting to printing them. For instance, the ease of routing a document electronically and always know where it is can sway others to the digital side.
By focusing on changing the human factor, you’ll be able to get to the root of your organization’s paper problem and effect actual change.
Earth Day Tip #2: Think Globally
The world is much different today than it was back in 1970 when Earth Day began.
For one, technology has expanded exponentially—rendering paper an unnecessary relic. Technological expansion has also driven changes in the workforce itself. Mobility—the ability to work from anywhere—is now a must for most organizations.
Make Your Documents Mobile
There’s a mobile document paradox today. Businesses are clamoring for mobile access to documents, so they can collaborate anytime, anywhere. However, mobile access to documents is far from reality at most organizations.
Not enough document management systems make it easy to access mobile documents. In fact, of organizations surveyed by AIIM, only:
- 22 percent have mobile access to EDMSs
- 20 percent can collaborate on mobile documents
- 13 percent can put documents through processes on mobile
That’s a real problem—especially if you have employees for travel for business (or between locations). They need access to documents at their fingertips—without going through a prolonged process to get a hold of them.
Use Earth Day to create a plan for making your documents accessible to everyone in your workforce—no matter where they are.
Keep Up—Anywhere, Anytime
Conducting business is no longer limited to just one location. Many organizations are spread out across multiple states—or spread across the world. Business partners, remote employees, and freelancers might be in the mix, as well. As a result, there are employees everywhere who need easy access to the same set of documents. You need a central digital repository of business information. You can’t just keep documents at headquarters anymore.
For instance, you might have customer service teams around the world. These teams are charged with responding to customer queries quickly—and making sure the customer is happy. But, if customer order information is stored in a filing cabinet in New Jersey, your customer service rep in Australia won’t be able to access it. A document management system makes it easy to centralize information and make the same customer order documents available to all teams everywhere.
When it comes to Earth Day, think globally. Make sure everyone in your organization has the same access to documents—and that those documents stay electronic.
Do more than just dream about going paperless this Earth Day. Download How to Go Paperless: Your Definitive Guide to Going Paperless in the Office to learn how to make your document dreams a reality.