Nearly 40 percent of every 30 pages printed are simply thrown away. That’s a lot of unnecessary waste! With the green movement in full swing, many individuals and businesses are finally ready to “go paperless.” 

Abandoning the paper trail poses a host of benefits in addition to the positive environmental impact including increased efficiency and time savings in locating and accessing your files. Whether for business or at home, if you are ready to take the paperless plunge, here are four best practices to implement – before, during, and after – into order to have a successful and secure transition from paper to virtual.

4 Best Practices When "Going Paperless"

Before You Begin…

Gain Staff/Family Support

For those looking to pull your business into the digital age, critical to the success of your paperless project is winning the buy-in of your staff.  (At home that staff is your unpaid, often unmotivated family). “It takes a village” to help a home or office go green, so to speak, but in both cases, those villagers are often resistant to change.

Since employees, like kids, are such hardcore creatures of habit, they may find it hard to believe that their current level of efficiency will be matched under this new, paperless procedure. Involving staff in the process early on will mean better understanding and greater ownership of the process during the transition. If it’s your family you have to convince, well, you’re probably competing against general laziness. Either way, the more your staff/kids understand why these changes are being implemented and how these changes will improve their work/home experience, the less likely you are to experience pushback.

Also read, How Going Paperless Can Declutter Busy People’s Lives

Update Your Computers

Whether at home or at work, you will surely need some virtual storage space so update, or even upgrade, the office computers. Install all software updates and recommended fixes because dated software can slow your paperless plan down to a crawl. Make sure you have a reliable backup system for all of that soon-to-be digitized paperwork. 

During the Process…

Go the Extra Mile

Once you go the paperless project is rolling, there are a few important but often overlooked practices to employ. 

Believe it or not, shredding isn’t always enough when it comes to disposing of sensitive information – for companies or private parties.  With just a few slivers of paper, dumpster divers can piece back together with a document manually or with the aid of a computer and glean the name, birth date, Social Security number, bank account digits – even where one’s kid attends school – of the document owner. 

Do you know how to dispose of shredded documents safely? If at home or if your company is doing your own shredding, then the paper debris left in the shredder should afterwards be broken up, and then safely disposed. Don’t toss all the paper waste at the same time. If you take it out of the office a little at a time, you reduce the chance of someone piecing together the identity of an employee or client. 

To further decrease that likelihood, hose down the remains. It’s a quick and cheap solution. Fire is another option but you can’t just pull a trashcan into the parking lot and toast marshmallows over the flaming paper shreds. Small amounts of debris can be burned in a barbecue, fire pit or fireplace, but if you don’t have a safe receptacle and/or you’re dealing with large masses of paper debris, do the fire marshal a favor and stick with the hose.

Also read, 7 Amazing Things You Can Do With A Fast Internet Connection

After Paperless Is in Place…

Benefits and results

For businesses, the concept of digital transformation in the workplace offers a unique opportunity to become increasingly customer-centric. The convenience of paperless options means customers are served faster and more efficiently.

For employees, paperless options can extend to payroll documents as well as year-end tax documents including Form 1095-Cs and W-2s. These options are huge time and space savers for you personally and professionally. 

In the home, chore lists, grocery items, report cards – anything can be digitized to save space and time. 

If you’ve decided it’s time to take your home or business into the digital age, now is the time. Follow these four tips before, during, and after implementation, for a paper-free office or home that is more productive than ever.