Paper memos, old-fashioned faxes, and other types of print correspondence are virtually unnecessary in 2012. In fact, many online services can help you reduce or even eliminate your consumption of paper products. But is making the switch worth the effort? Quite possibly.
Here are four benefits of going paperless.
- Improve efficiency. It can be time-consuming and tedious to sift through months or years of documents stored in filing cabinets to find the information you need. By going digital, you can reduce errors and retrieve data faster. Maintaining searchable electronic records also makes it easier for employees to respond to customer requests, from the office or remote locations, as e-commerce company MajesticInvites.com found when converting all of its paper documents to online data.
- Save money on office supplies. The cost of paper — around $40 per case — isn’t the only cost of relying on printed documents. Equipment, ink, toner, and storage, to name a few, all add up. So does the time that you and your employees spend managing and filing paper. In fact, Fortune 100 companies spend roughly $7,500 per employee each year to manage paper documents [PDF]. MajesticInvites.com, which has just eight employees, estimates that going paperless in the office has saved the company even more than that — approximately $100,000 a year, according to president Alina Uzilov.
- Help the environment. A typical office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year, notes Reduce.org. Cutting back that number to zero (or as close to it as possible) can conserve significant energy and resources. For instance, if every U.S. household shifted to paying bills online, the release of greenhouse gases could be curbed by 2.1 million tons.
- Speed up your receivables. If you rely on paper documents and checks for billing and invoicing, you can spend a lot of time waiting for clients to receive your invoices and cut your checks. By eliminating paper invoices and checks and making the shift to electronic billing, you may entice your clients to process payment immediately: Intuit’s PaymentNetwork customer survey found that business owners who used electronic methods to request payment were paid within 10 days, versus a 27-day average for all methods.