Ways to go paperless in the office actually have to begin with somewhat of a compromise about the meaning of the term “paperless” and that it will take time to go fully paperless. About the best anyone can immediately hope for in the struggle against the explosion of information is “less paper.”
The computer age has actually contributed to, rather than lessened the burden of, printed matter that records everything from legal transactions to supermarket coupons. That is because of fast printing and reprinting when some document is “not quite right.” But any office operation can get to a nearly paperless state by focusing on digital storage and display technology that is out there and ready to use, with many free virtual office solutions and apps.
Benefits of being a paperless office include reduction in the costs of printing, mailing, shipping, buying and storing paper – and less time spent searching for documents in file cabinets or file folders.
Here are some suggestions on ways to go with far less paper and eventually become paperless in the office.
1. Share more, print less. Do that by networking your office computers, designating one hard drive as your server. Organize your files in a manageable, accessible way in a manner that logically suits your office business. Office software has built-in collaborative facilities where project groups can review, recommend changes and produce a final product without the multi-printing iterations of the past.
2. Use web portability software. On the road or at home, you can dump a file into an Internet “cloud” application. Access that file remotely and a single version of the file is maintained for access, revision and sharing with authorized users. One exceptionally good file web file-sharing program is Dropbox. Download the app at DropBox.com and get 2 gigabytes of free secure storage space. Install the application on more than one computer, including your smartphone, Android, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry or Kindle Fire.
3. Use your handheld device or laptop to access stored files. Turn off the office printer and enforce relentless “paperless” discipline. At group presentations, do without paper handouts. Share the presentation file electronically.
4. Consider installing document management software. Once you have ingrained a new culture of slashing the paperwork into your office, you can take the next big step: going completely paperless. You can scan and store everything on that is currently on paper on the computer nowadays. Shop around for the system that suits your needs and volume for your business. Start at Freedcamp (a free alternative to Basecamp), EFileCabinet or Zoho for a quick demo and an idea what paperless office software can do.
5. Send documents for signature online. Services like RightSignature or Adobe EchoSign (affiliate) are as easy as uploading a document and sending it via email for a client to easily digitally read and sign a contract or other documents and save as a pdf.
6. Use free software to convert almost any file to a pdf. Convert Files – Convert any document, archive file, spreadsheet, audio and video file from one format to another (up to 200 MB currently). Service is offered at absolutely no charge and without the need to download additional software.
PrimoPDF Converter – Convert 300+ file types to PDF. Convert any file that prints to PDF, including Microsoft Word (DOC, DOCX), Excel (XLS, XLSX), PowerPoint (PPT, PPTX), Visio (VSD), Publisher (PUB), WordPerfect (WPD), OpenOffice, HTML, TXT, BMP, TIFF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and many more. 100% industry-standard PDF files. Easily create PDF files that can be opened in any PDF viewer, including Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader, and Nitro PDF Professional. Profiles include Screen, eBook, Print, Prepress, and Custom. Append PDF files. Combine each newly created PDF file into the one PDF.
While you’re cleaning up your paper clutter…
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