Paper waste is a big issue in business. In fact, it makes up the largest part of un-recycled waste that offices generate. And when we say largest, we’re talking 700,000 tonnes of paper and paper products per year – just in New South Wales.

Clearly, we need to make some changes to how we dispose of our paper, or better yet – learn to go paperless.

As a digital solution, DocuSign is highly supportive of ways to save paper, and initiatives that aim to create awareness and promote responsible disposal. So in honour of Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week 2018, we’re sharing a few of the ways we go paperless in our office that you might want to adopt in yours.

1. Think before you print

For some of us, printing meeting agendas or presentations has become a habit. But if we really think about it, how often are those handouts referred to again? You’ll find that most are left in the room or thrown away.

Next meeting, try adding the agenda to your Outlook invitation or emailing attendees your presentation in advance. Having a soft copy allows them to add notes or comments, and gives them something they can refer to later.

Being a software company, DocuSign embraces technology to help us go paperless. We have tv screens in our meeting rooms so anyone can connect their laptop and showcase presentations in large format.

This is especially helpful in conference calls with staff or customers who are overseas or working from home.

2. Take paperless notes

If you’re a note taker like me, you’ll never be without your trusty pen and paper. But there are some great online alternatives out there.

My personal favourite is Evernote. I like the simplicity of the functions, being able to use it across multiple devices, and how widely used it is – my entire team uses it, so collaborating on or sharing notes between us is easy.

If you’re looking for an app that feels more like a paper notebook, Microsoft Onenote is great. You can store your notes in ‘books’, colour code them and easily organise everything. Plus, you get the benefit of Microsoft’s font formatting and program functionality.

While I haven’t used it personally, my colleague swears by Google Keep. It’s great for use in meetings as it has the ability to create photo or voice notes. A pretty handy function so don’t have to type up your notes later.

3. Use online or cloud storage for your files

Many businesses are adopting online file storage programs. In the past I’ve used Dropbox, SugarSync and of course, Google Drive.

All have their pros and cons. My preference is Dropbox. It’s easy to file your documents and multiple people can access the same document, at the same time. Which is great for reports as you can see the data being completed in real time.

Google Drive is also widely used, probably because you can store multiple formats, edit online using familiar formatting functions, and share documents or folders with your team, or a single person. Plus, getting 15 GB of storage for free is pretty good too.

SugarSync works the same way as Dropbox and Google Drive, but it’s always good to look at all available options, to find the right product for your business.

At DocuSign, we use BOX. Again, it has very similar functionality to other cloud-based storage products, but it allows us to have complete control of our data. For our company, data security is critical, so we ensure our internal platforms meet our high standards.

4. Hot desking keeps our office looking Hot desking keeps our office looking 100% fire

It can be a bit of an adjustment in the beginning but hot desking is actually a great way to keep paper use to a minimum. It’s much harder to amass a collection of papers if you might be sitting in a different seat each day.

5. Cultural Support

While hot desking is helpful, what really helps is to have an internal culture that reinforces the paperless message.

DocuSign is committed to helping businesses go paperless, and our office culture reflects that too. We don’t have a cupboard full of stationery. There are a few pens and highlighters in the cupboard, but we don’t make regular orders. Instead, staff make one-off requests when they need an item.

The idea is that if you want to use paper you can order a notepad, but we’re encouraged to use our laptops for taking notes. For a die hard pen and paper user, I found it challenging at first, but having such a deep-seated focus on technology replacing paper has helped me to make the transition to online notes. And I’ve never looked back.

Even my personal diary is at home gathering dust. Which is sad for my lovely little diary, but fantastic for our environment.

6. Keep recycling bins handy

Even if you’re a paperless office like DocuSign, there will always be paper products in need of proper disposal. To minimise recyclables being chucked into the garbage, we don’t have personal bins. Our only bins are in the Kitchen and tea area.

We use a 3 bin system:

  • Blue is for paper and paper products like unused napkins, cardboard containers, letters, etc.
  • Yellow for cans and bottles – we’re lucky to have drinks on offer in our fridge. Recycling the cans and bottles is part of our office culture, to help everyone stay on the ball.
  • Red is for garbage.

For more ideas on how you can save paper, or to learn more about recycling at work, check out Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week website.

Resources:

  • https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/business/090092-office-paper-factsheet.pdf
  • https://planetark.org/documents/doc-1094-make-it-recycled-media-release-2013-09-12.pdf

Author: Jaime Reed – Marketing Associate, DocuSign Asia Pacific

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