Environmental awareness is on the rise, and going paperless may not just be good for the planet, but could inspire customer loyalty too. In this piece we’ll look at the potential benefits of going paperless, and how your business can take the paper-free plunge.
What does ‘going paperless’ mean?
Paper has been around for some 5,000 years, originally in the form of papyrus, an ancient Egyptian writing surface. Quite a lot has changed since and in the modern world of business you can find paper everywhere you look – from marketing brochures to bookkeeping. But increasingly, many companies are looking to go paperless, which as you may have guessed, means using digital processes to replace activities involving paper.
The benefits of going paperless
They say old habits die hard, but for companies that reduce or eliminate their notepads, leaflets and paperwork, there may be various benefits of going paperless:
- You could save time. Who likes filling in paper forms? Going paperless may be an opportunity to reduce the mountain of paperwork both for you and your customers. Documents can go missing and postal delays can occur, whereas a truly paperless business can potentially benefit from sending and receiving files and forms instantly, which may give you more time to focus on the things that matter most.
- You could (potentially) help the environment. As we all know, some paper comes from cutting down trees or plants and this can sometimes take place in unsustainable tree farms, but also forests. The practice of felling trees can affect ecosystems, wildlife and weather patterns. In addition, some ink is said to contain potentially harmful chemicals that can pollute the soil. Therefore, becoming a paperless business could potentially reduce your company’s environmental impact. However, even if you replace paper with electronic devices, keep in mind that ‘e-waste’ can create problems at landfill sites, such as exposing the soil and water to lead and mercury, so you may wish to take efforts to recycle and reuse your laptops, mobile phones and tablets. It’s also worth pointing out that not all paper is unsustainable, so you could look for paper that has been certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
- You could enhance your brand. A business that takes its environmental responsibilities seriously may be well positioned to connect with consumers who value sustainability. Not only that, going paperless could help enhance the perception of your company as a modern, efficient organisation, rather than one that uses outdated technologies and processes.
Five ways to go paperless:
Looking to ditch those piles of paperwork? There’s more than one way to go paperless at your workplace, as we’ll explore below.
- Cloud-based platforms. By using cloud-based storage instead of towering filing cabinets, you could free up office space and locate documents more easily.
- Electronic payrolls. Running a payroll is an important responsibility if you hire staff and having an electronic payroll system – rather than sending payslips in the post – could be one way to go paperless at work.
- E-receipts. Sending a digital receipt to a customer’s inbox after payment could mean less excessive printing, less risk of a paper jam and no more finding scrunched-up bits of paper in your pocket.
- Online marketing. Direct mail involves printing paper, but you could try to go paperless by running email and social media campaigns online, and of course, by selling through your website.
- Digital accounting. Everything from purchase orders to invoices can be sent by email, while bookkeeping software could help you avoid the horror of never-ending paper trails.
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This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.
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