Going paperless is good for the environment! Going paperless helps you stay organised!
These highly touted reasons to create a paperless office are incredibly important...but we’ve heard them so many times that it starts to sound like a staticky buzz in our ears.
You already know going paperless helps the environment and keeps you from getting lost under piles of paper. If those facts were reason enough to turn your business upside down to eliminate your reliance on paper forms, invoices, contracts, and more, you would have done it already. So here are some of the the lesser-known, but still huge, advantages to going paperless. One of these will likely motivate you to say goodbye to paper for good.
Many business owners and managers consider reducing their paper use as a way to show customers that they’re good environmental stewards. An even more important reason, though, may be the fact that customers simply hate filling out lots of paper forms. (Especially when they have to write the same information into one than one form!)
A few years ago, you had to nag customers to opt out of paper documents and select online statements and forms instead. Now, though, customers appreciate the convenience of being able to fill out forms at home before they come in for an appointment or hire you for work. They also like being able to fill out only one form and have their information automatically propagate to other forms you need filled out.
We don’t need to elaborate on the benefit of happier customers, right? (Hint: More profits.)
When you’re on your deathbed, you’ll be horrified thinking about how much precious time you wasted looking for lost things.
The Daily Mail says we spend 10 minutes every day looking for lost items—and paperwork is one of the top things that go missing. (Ironically, diary/personal organiser is also on the top-20 list.) And according to an article in The New Yorker, ‘In the course of your life, you’ll spend roughly six solid months looking for missing objects’. Half a year of your life! Looking for things!
Going paperless will help you reclaim some of that lost time; instead of paper documents that have a habit of disappearing at the worst moment, everything you need will be easily accessible with just a few keystrokes.
Imagine this: One of your customers orders a new tool on Amazon and it’s delivered the same day. They invite all their relatives to their son’s birthday party in seconds using Paperless Post, log into their doctor’s portal to check out their blood test results, and use an app on their phone to transfer money from checking to savings (to pay for all the party supplies, of course).
Then they go to your business and the customer service rep digs into a teetering pile of files to locate their information—and later hands them a pad of paper and a leaky pen to sign up for your mailing list.
Compared to the way customers are used to doing things today, a paper-heavy business process looks absolutely antiquated. Unless that’s the look you’re going for—for example, maybe you own an actual antique store—paperless creates a professional image that fosters confidence in your company.
When people buy from you, they’re buying more than a product or service. They’re also buying a feeling, and the perception they have of your brand can be as important as the product or service itself. That feeling might be trust, happiness, or freedom—but whatever it is, smooth, paperless business practices bolster those emotions in your customers.
Paper comes from trees, so when you cut out paper documents you cut down fewer trees. That’s obvious.
But what about the printers, ink, and ink cartridges that go into creating paper documents?
Surprise! The printer itself, and the ink it uses, are also harmful to the environment. It takes three quarts of oil to produce a laser cartridge and three ounces for inkjet cartridges, according to an article on ink waste on The Energy Collective website.
Ink printers and their ink contain many potentially dangerous chemicals like cyclohexanone (which Wikipedia calls ‘only moderately toxic’) and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. And finally, eleven ink cartridges are thrown out every second, where they pollute the soil and water with heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.
Fewer paper documents means not just fewer trees cut down—but also less of these hazards in our environment.
A big claim, we know. But just imagine how much more smoothly your days will go when you never again have to:
Search for lost documents.
Decipher your employees’ chicken-scratch handwriting
See a chaotic mess every time you enter your place of business.
Deal with damaged documents.
Ever see those photos on interior design websites where the only items in a room—other than the tasteful furniture—are a carefully stacked pile of hardcover books on the side table and a color-coordinated bouquet of exotic flowers on the coffee table?
At the same time that you’re wondering, ‘Where do these people keep their stuff?’, you’re wishing you could transport yourself through the internet and relax in that room.
That’s what your workspace will be like when you’ve defeated the paper monster. Now you can just gaze at your serene, clean space, say a few om’s, and become enlightened. (Or at least enjoy a cup of coffee without the risk of spilling it on a life-or-death document...and take a call without your employees freaking out in the background over a missing invoice.)
You’re now convinced that going paperless will turn your business into an organised oasis of productivity and profit—but the prospect of eliminating every scrap of paper from your business is overwhelming.
Good news: You don’t have to do it all at once, and you don’t even have to go 100% paperless to make a positive impact on your business!
Replace one paper-heavy process at a time with its digital equivalent—maybe start with the easiest process to transform—and when it’s running the way you want it, move on to another one.
Every business is different, so don’t worry that you’re still hanging on to some paper processes that work for you; just do what makes sense for you and you’ll start to see improvements in your business’s productivity, organisation, and customer satisfaction scores.
Are you in a field service business? Are you ready to reap the benefits of a paperless workplace? Start with your forms. SumUp integrates with Commusoft, a cloud-based, purpose-built, all-in-one software that allows plumbing, heating, and gas businesses to manage their operations from any location. Learn more about how the integration can help you here.
Image: Harris Walker (CC BY 2.0)