Going Green: The Benefits of a Paperless Office
Posted on 12th July 2017 in Business
Written by Freya Hughes
We’re a proudly paperless office here in Brighton and we couldn’t imagine working in a different way. Admittedly, we launched in 2014 so it was less of a decision to “go cloud”, instead it was a no-brainer. But, what happens if your work environment hasn’t made that commitment? Kermit, everyone’s favourite frog, makes a case for the hardships of being green but this blog looks at how it can change the way you work for the better.
Save on space
Goodbye filing cabinets! Having your files all stored on your computer (and backed up on the cloud, of course) is going to save you a whole load of space. Saving on space means you can expand your team and make the most of the room you have in your office, or you could downsize and make a saving on your rent.
Though published back in 2013, Financial Advisor Magazine’s case study here shows how going paperless helped a small advisory firm in California. They went paperless and transformed their old 10ft x 10ft file room into an office for a new member of staff, generating more revenue for the firm. It took them about 18 months to make the transition, and the CEO notes that over 50% of his customers prefer emailed records over paper ones.
Rather than going through reams of documents in the previously mentioned filing cabinets, hit search. Taking fractions of the time usually spent tracking down a document, storing your information online is a great way to claw back precious minutes of the working day.
We know that for accountants, a lot more time is spent on a client than you’re billing for. Rather than spending an hour plus on researching the next client due through your door, you can just search their name and scan through all of their data which is stored in one place.
You can also automate so many tasks these days it will revolutionise the way you work. Rather than wasting your time with tedious administrative work, setting up workflows on applications will allow you to complete some tasks in seconds or minutes. See our top Xero and QuickBooks apps to get you started.
Collaboration becomes easier
Being able to jump on the same document as a collaborator makes communicating your thoughts a lot easier. Here at FUTRLI, we rely on Google Docs a lot because they’re easy to amend on the go or remotely. All automatically backed up in Google Drive, we can rest assured our work is safe and waiting for us to come back to the next morning. We also use sites such as Trello, which works a bit like an online to-do list. You’re able to reorder your tasks, set due times, and add labels, notes and comments.
We’re always jumping on video calls to discuss our work, mostly using Zoom. There are plenty of other great services out there like Viju, which is secure, stable and will support most workflows. Get VOIP wrote a great article rounding up the best video calling software around – see the benefits of a range of services, from freebies to the most high-tech.
This saves us the hassle of finding a free meeting room, trying to find a time everyone is in the same office or is free – we can get on with the task at hand with the click of a button (or two). Writing blogs as an example, we have an editorial calendar Trello board which shows the progress of each article. Plus, the rest of the marketing team are able to jump on to make suggestions and improvements – and it’s all trackable so we can see whose idea is whose, speak with each person to get the best results.
There can be nothing worse than a document falling into the wrong hands. Confidential information can only stay that way with serious security measures, and while a lock on a cabinet may keep nosy people at bay, if someone really wanted access to something would amateur security measures stop them? Didn’t think so. You’ll need to implement a policy in which everyone working for you understands; get a system in place that logs the creation and use, all the way to the destruction of a document. This will keep security looking good for your office.
Having various levels of security on your system or documents will allow you to give different access to each of your staff. Software like FUTRLI, for example, allows you to control your entire account, and give access to some dashboards to managers, supervisors or even entry-level employees. This allows everyone to work towards the same targets, but at the same time blocking lower-level workers access to the confidential information. You wouldn’t want staff to see each other’s salaries for example, but you would want them to all focus on the same customer retention KPI.
Customer satisfaction improves
In the modern world, we’ve got used to instant everything. Is your business using technology to help your customers? Using a system like Intercom or Zendesk, you’ll have direct instant messages from your customers who might need some help to your phone or computer.
“At Wow, we use Zendesk to guarantee response times to clients. If you have an urgent query, even if your accountant is on holiday or in meetings all day, we can get back to you much faster than if a message was left sitting in an email inbox or as a missed call in a mobile.”
Having this functionality stops the relentless ringing of the phone from disrupting your admin time and will see your customers being served quicker and more efficiently.
It’s cost effective
Businesses spend 2.5 months per year on paperwork, which can cost as much as £5657 per year. Think what you could do with that – and we don’t just mean the cash. Spending nearly a quarter of the year on paperwork when there are so many automated services out there is, frankly, madness. Especially when you think a 75% reduction in paperwork could save you 39 days per year, and £4243!
While post is preferred by some, and is unavoidable in some industries, sending out mass letters it’s going to cost you a significant amount. Can you say the same thing in an email? With design technology being so advanced, you could say the same thing but more nicely presented, with your branding, effectively for free.
If you’re still not convinced, have a look at TotallyPaperless.com’s breakdown on ROI for a paperless office. They conclude, “A conservative estimate is that a targeted document management effort can return as much as $20.00- $40.00 for every dollar invested.” This takes into account the amount spent annually on paper, ink, etc and maintenance against the longevity of a computer bought new.
Great for the environment
The WWF states, “Unsustainable logging by some businesses in the paper industry degrades forests, accelerates climate change and leads to wildlife loss. Such practices also affect people who depend directly on forests.” We all know this, but few of us really do anything about it. While it’s not all paper producers that contribute to this (many are using sustainable practices, replanting trees as they’re used. Forest coverage in the north of the US has actually risen 28% in the last century), it helps to avoid using more than is necessary.
Cutting down on your paper consumption will lower this rate of unsustainable deforestation, though you’ll need to look into responsibly disposing of your electronics too to really make a difference.
Disaster recovery is possible
Ever burned a stack of confidential papers? Imagine chucking the wrong file and never being able to retrieve it. Backing up your work (which cloud-powered apps will automate for you) means even if you have managed to accidentally delete it, there’s a good chance you can recover it. Jotting down a note to yourself and never seeing it again happens to the best of us, and it’s such a pain. Write it on your computer, phone or tablet and even if that breaks or gets lost, recovery is possible if you’ve backed up.
It’s a little difficult for us to imagine here in Brighton, UK, but when nature strikes you’re going to need to have all of your data and information backed up somewhere. Australian or Californian wildfires, tornados, hurricanes – the list goes on. When you can’t predict what the weather is about to do, it’s an absolute must to have your work saved somewhere other than your filing cabinet, or main computer. Get your information on the cloud – somewhere natural disasters can’t reach.