Is it worth becoming a paperless office in the UK? Well, there are some compelling figures that show that it is certainly worth considering. In the UK, we use over 12.5 million tonnes of paper a year. To put this into perspective, that is equivalent to the weight of the Empire State Building, 34 times over. The trees needed to create this much paper would cover a forest of around 21,000km², an area slightly bigger than Wales. With around a 5th of the country’s waste being paper-based, we have a serious issue in the UK and it turns out offices are one of the main contributors to this issue.
On average, an office worker uses around 10,000 sheets of paper per year, which sounds exaggerated at first, but it doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to see how this is happening. Long contracts, invoices, printing out emails, photocopying, notepads; the list goes on! Of course, sometimes using paper is unavoidable. Legal documentation, like employee contracts and other official documents, will stay on paper for the foreseeable. However, there’s plenty of ways we can cut down, saving time and money in the long-run too.
The hidden costs of paper
That’s right, it isn’t just for environmental reasons that we should all be cutting down on paper. For starters, these 10,000 sheets of paper will cost an average of £40, not including the ink. We all know how expensive ink can be, but there are plenty of hidden costs too, such as the handling of paper waste. Current estimates conclude that the cost of using paper could be up to 31 times the original cost, so you could be spending over £1200 extra, just for one employee to use paper for a year.
Paper can also be a huge time-sink compared to the digital alternative. Office workers can spend a long time sifting through files to find the one document they need, when they could simply use the search function on their PC. This might not be a huge amount of time individually, but it all adds up, especially when you considering the disposal of documents, like if they need shredding. It can also take a long time to do other paper-based processes like sending letters and invoices. Businesses revealed that whole days have been wasted just waiting for signatures.
Finally, paper takes up a lot of space. From filing cabinets and stationary cupboards, to needing bigger desks to accommodate various piles of documents, storage can be a real issue. An expensive one too. Office space in London is the most expensive in Europe, with an average price of over £100 per square foot in the West End. Prime office locations can be way higher, costing nearly £500 per square foot on average. This is true for the rest of the UK to some extent; but becoming a paperless office in London could be a huge cost-saver!
Steps to becoming a paperless office in the UK
1. Make a plan
Starting the journey to becoming a paperless office can be daunting, but it also gives you an opportunity to streamline operations and improve your business. For example, using cloud-based systems can remove paper wastage, but an added bonus would be that you can access files and programs from anywhere, rather than just in the office. You may be able to speed up processes by getting e-signatures from customers instead of waiting for physical pages to come back. Thinking outside the box like this can really help improve the efficiency of your business, as well as providing a better experience for customers and staff.
Create a list of all processes and see where you could digitise them. It could also be worth listing processes that are already digital as there could be some overlap in solutions that could make the whole project a lot smoother. Ideally you want to be using as few different products as possible to keep everything flowing and reduce potential training time and costs.
Don’t be afraid to bring in IT solutions experts, like Nutbourne, should you want experienced technicians to oversee and implement the project. We’ve helped a lot of companies on their way to becoming a paperless office in the UK!
2. Choose your solutions
Depending on your business requirements, you may need a bespoke solution, but this is unlikely considering the breadth of “off-the-shelf” solutions that are already available. The most popular cloud SaaS (Software as a Service) solution is Microsoft 365, previously known as Office 365, but there are others available. The Google suite of cloud software can fill in a lot of requirements with Google Drive, Sheets, Docs, Gmail and more.
Whilst both of these solutions offer a lot of what office workers need on a daily basis, there’s plenty more to consider. There’s a lot of companies that are still working off paper or simple spreadsheets to track their customers. This is especially true for sales teams in the manufacturing industry among others. To effectively track customers, it is good to use a CRM solution such as Salesforce. This can help increase sales, improve customer and staff experience and open up analytical and marketing opportunities. It helps that CRM systems often integrate with other SaaS platforms, such as those previously mentioned, which can make the process congruous and easy to use for your staff.
Solutions like Slack or Monday can help to improve workflow and improve collaboration between employees and clients. Docusign can help speed up getting signatures. Elucidat is an elearning tool that allows you to create custom training for staff, which could be useful if you’re bringing in new software or want to educate on reducing paper wastage. There’s so much else out there and it’s important that you choose the right ones for your business.
There’s nothing worse than surprising staff with an overhaul of systems. Communicate in advance so you can get everyone on board early. Staff changing their habits is incredibly important to this whole process. You might also get some good suggestions that can help influence your decisions on which software to use and some insight on training requirements too.
4. Implement the solutions
It’s time to go paperless, or as paperless as you can realistically get! Start bringing in the solutions and provide any training to help staff get up to speed. It can take a little while to port everything across to the cloud, especially from paper-based systems, so allow for some adjustment time while everyone adapts. There may be some troubleshooting at this stage, but with the proper planning and foresight, all should go smoothly and you can cut out paper for good!
If you need help becoming a paperless office in the UK or would like some assistance in migrating to the cloud, increasing your security or any other IT requirements we’re here to help!
So, if you’d like to find out more about our managed IT services in London, then get in touch! Contact Nutbourne today on +44 (0) 137 7273 or by filling out one of our online enquiry forms. Alternatively, you can message us via our Live Chat option; one of our team members will get back to you as quickly as possible. However you wish to get in touch, we look forward to hearing from you!