Want to know how to save paper in the office and how to achieve a paperless office? Then you've come to the right place! On average, we Germans consume about 227 kilograms of paper per capita per year. This requires about 500 kilograms of wood.₁ Most people want to do something about it, but simply don't know where to start.
That can be changed! File folders, printers and copiers, flipcharts, notes, shipping boxes, letters - a large proportion of paper consumption is generated primarily by office work. Fortunately, it can be reduced to a minimum with really simple means.
So in this article, I'm going to show you exactly how you can get started and save paper in your home office or at work. You'll also find out how the switch to a completely paperless paperless office mastered. Let's go!
Here is a short overview for you in advance:
Advantages: Why should you strive for a paperless office?
Just to produce 500 sheets of normal copier paper requires around 5.5 kilograms of wood, 130 liters of water and 13 kilowatt hours of energy.₂ Average office workers consume around 833 sheets of paper per month.₃ Disturbing and at the same time motivating facts, right?
Before we move on to the practical tips, I would like to get your motivation for conscious and long-term Save paper now increase immeasurably. What do we gain from reducing paper consumption in the office? The following benefits give us a clear picture of the impact of a possible paperless office.
The main opportunities and advantages
- Environmental friendliness: The paperless office reduces the Deforestation for paper production and protects valuable ecosystems. In addition, lower paper consumption conserves natural resources such as wood and water - and also reduces energy requirements.
- Cost savings: Reducing paper consumption in the office can minimize costs for postage, printers, ink, maintenance and storage capacity, among other things.
- Location independence: The paperless office is not bound to place and time. Digitizing documents enables access to important information and data from anywhere. Whether in the home office, on the road or at different company locations.
- Efficiency: Digital documents are easier to search, sort, and archive. This facilitates quick access to sought-after information, promotes collaboration and productivity. In addition, important connections can be recognized even faster.
- Space saving: The paperless office reduces the need for physical storage of documents, resulting in more efficient use of space.
- Security and complianceDigital documents offer greater data security and are easier to protect than physical documents. They simplify compliance with data protection regulations and, moreover, are not vulnerable to disasters. (e.g. fire or floods).
- Improved customer service: Faster and easier access to information means that customer inquiries can be answered much more quickly and, last but not least, in a targeted manner.
- Great external effect: A paperless office is an important Feature of attractive employers:inside, makes any company more interesting on the labor market and more competitive not only for this reason.
10 tips: How can you basically save paper in the office?
Motivated enough? Great! Then we can now move on to the general tips for saving paper in the office before we move on to the advice for switching to a paperless office. The following ideas can be implemented in basically any office right away.
1. use recycled paper
Instead of relying on virgin paper, use recycled paper. Due to the recycling circuit, paper can be easily reused and above all wood as Conserve natural resource. Recycled paper can be used in the office just like new paper - but it is usually cheaper and definitely much more sustainable.
2. weigh the necessity of the expression
Using recycled paper is a good start for all of us. But of course it doesn't reduce internal paper consumption. Because the most sustainable expression is the one that is not made in the first place.
Therefore, ask yourself the following questions, among others: Do I really need to print out the e-mail? Do I have to print and copy the whole report or are two pages of the report enough? First think and then print is the motto for reducing paper consumption in the office.
3. print double-sided
Printing on both sides is a great Tip for sustainable printing. After all, the double-sided printout can already Save half of your own paper consumption.
Many companies and consumers are aware of this and make double-sided printing a standard setting on their devices. They are implementing these measures in both internal and external communications.
4. set smaller font
By reducing the font size of the respective document before the (unavoidable) printout, you decisively reduce the number of printed pages. Selecting a smaller font is done in seconds. However, make sure it is not too hard to read to avoid misprinting or duplication.
5. print without graphics
From experience, photos and other (often color) graphics are not needed on most printouts. By removing the graphics and printing only the relevant textthe document retains its expressiveness, while at the same time conserving paper and toner.
6. use paper several times
Used paper should not end up in the trash unused, but should be used as often as possible. There are countless ideas for reuse! Use the free backs of documents for example for free designs. Or simply reduce the size of the A4 sheets and make small notes out of them. Also Shipping boxes can, of course, be easily stored and used again.
7. master meetings without paper
With the help of digital assistance sustainable meetings nowadays completely paperless. Instead of presenting information on multiple copied, printed presentations, reports, or handouts, for example, you can simply put it on Screens or per PDF file with your colleagues in the office.
8. introduce paper parmonate in office
Many employees and consumers unknowingly used a lot of paper because they were not made aware of the problem with paper waste. A company-owned "paper parmonate" is a great Opportunity to generate awareness and stimulate a shift in thinking across the team.
It is important that the advantages of the paperless office mentioned above are internalized. As part of the Challenge, all colleagues in the office then work together to identify superfluous paper products and learn how to replace them without paper.
9. write emails instead of letters
By using your Digitize letter mailyou can make a significant contribution to saving paper in the office - and you also save money through sustainability and a lot of time. This is one of the reasons why the acceptance of e-mail among the population is extremely high.
Letters are often sent anyway because they need to be signed. The establishment of a E-signature software or simply a digital signature in the PDF reader, can prevent this printout and, not least, make the dream of the paperless office more tangible.
10. switch to digital alternatives
I myself basically don't use any paper in my own office anymore because I've digitized (almost) everything. Only my notebook*, which I have been using for several years, serves me faithfully as a paper product.
Otherwise, when paper lands on my desk, it's a Invoice that other companies send me by mail. But even these are becoming fewer and fewer, because I either switch them online to e-mail instead of letter mail or inform the senders:inside by e-mail of my wish. The switch to digital solutions makes the paperless office ultimately possible in the first place.
10 digitization tips: How to make the switch to a paperless office?
Talk about digitization! Although we are in the midst of the digital age, we humans still use almost as much paper in our everyday lives as we did in 2000.₄ The Switching to a digitalized, paperless office as much as possible represents a great opportunity, to really make a tangible, positive impact in this respect.
However, depending on the size of the operation, the process may require a great deal of discipline and courage and may possibly be lengthy. Whether in a home office or an open-plan office - just use the following tips and ideas to make the switch to a paperless office with ease.
1. define actual and target state
First analyze the current paper consumption and Identify the areas where the amount of paper is currently still very high.
Then define realistic goals and intermediate objectives, and get a picture of what you want to achieve. A clear idea of the desired state helps to effectively manage the changeover process and develop appropriate measures.
Remember that goals Specific, measurable, attractive, realistic and scheduled (S.M.A.R.T) should be. In this respect, the so-called SMART formula serves as a useful orientation aid and a clear definition of goals.
"The internal paper consumption in the office will be reduced by 50 percent to an average of 100 sheets of paper per employee by December 31 of this year. - is, for example, a nice, practical formulation that all colleagues could use as a guideline.
2. create the technical basis and get started
For a digital and paperless office, you first need the right equipment. Modern computers and smartphones with scanning apps, as well as high-quality scanners, for example, belong in every office without paper.
First digitize all documents stored in paper form as PDF documents by scanning them. The amount of work is of course very high in most cases - but it is worth it and creates an enormous amount of space. The work also only has to be done once 😉 .
3. focus on sustainable document destruction
Private consumers:inside Simply dispose of documents that are no longer needed in the blue paper waste garbage can. This ensures that the natural resources recycled and can be reused as recycled paper in the office, for example.
However, companies have to comply with retention periods of sometimes more than ten years for certain documents and records, which means that large quantities of paper accumulate. In such a case, it is advisable to rely on specialized, TÜV-certified waste disposal companies to set the course for sustainable Document destruction have dedicated.
You dispose of paper waste in a targeted manner and are able, for example, to destroy the files on site by truck in order to save countless company transport journeys. This is an important measure in preparation for a permanently paperless office.
4. create meaningful file names and folder structures
A well-organized, logical file and folder structure is the backbone of an efficient paperless office. Assign meaningful, descriptive file names and create a clear, unambiguous folder structure that allows Allows all employees to find required documents quickly and easily - and, conversely, to classify them in a meaningful way. Digital software can make document management much safer and easier.
5. save files to the cloud
After you have digitized all the documents, it's time to create a centralized Find storage location so that files are accessible to every colleague and not on individual computers.
Documents and other files can be easily stored digitally in an internal cloud storage. They enable all employees to clearly more flexibilitysince the data can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-enabled device. However, ensure the appropriate IT Security - for example, by setting up two-factor authentication.
6. digitize accounting
Experience shows that a particularly large amount of paper is used in accounting. Invoices, sales lists, supporting documents and other records pile up - not least because of the long retention periods.
Fortunately, nowadays there are many good softwares and programs that do exactly this "paperwork" for you. I write my invoices with a simple Invoicing softwareThe reminder is also sent out automatically by e-mail as soon as the payment deadline has been reached.
In addition, the monitoring of sales by the Online banking has been possible digitally for a long time. The changeover at your bank will ultimately save you thousands of folders with account statements. Banking matters can then also be managed easily from anywhere.
7. use a digital calendar
Digital appointment calendars make even notepads more and more superfluous. You can set the appointments both on your PC or smartphone and also with special apps or software tools, and ensure that all or only certain colleagues have access to it. Push notifications keep you informed about current appointments on time - so you'll never miss an appointment again. Pretty handy, isn't it?
8. use helpful apps and tools
Cloud-based software, such as the Digital Asset Management (DAM), are a real springboard into the digitization of companies, as all relevant business documents can be stored and retrieved there.
But many smaller tools can also help significantly to get closer to the office without paper. Here are a few examples:
- Google Drive: A file hosting service where the team can access and (even collaboratively) edit files live.
- Signeasy: An eSignature platform to simplify and automate document workflows.
- Evernote: To create digital to-do lists, edit files, send them as e-mail and share them with other users.
- Scanner Pro: With such smartphone apps, any paper document can be scanned and uploaded to cloud storage in seconds.
Do you know of other tools to save paper in the office? Then I look forward to your ideas in the comments column!
9. digitize internal communication
Digitizing internal communications is an extremely important step in reducing paper consumption in the office. Emails, instant messaging apps, specialized project management software and other digital communication tools facilitate information sharing and reduce the need for physical documents immensely. They also promote that the entire team works much more productively and stress-free.
10. create guidelines for the paperless office
Clear specifications and guidelines simplify the long-term environmentally conscious handling of paper and digital documents in the office. The paperless office should be a valuable and always communicated part of the sustainable corporate philosophy be
It is advisable to ensure that all employees are pulling in the same direction and that the new colleagues are also aware of this, Regular training to be carried out. In particular, this should promote IT skills so that the entire team fully exploits the opportunities for saving paper through digital tools.
Paperless office and save paper at work? No problem!
If you know how to do it and where to start, saving paper in the office is really easy as pie. If printing is simply unavoidable, then use recycled paper, print on both sides with a smaller font size and use printouts that are no longer needed as notes.
Above all, digital devices and tools ultimately enable us to achieve the paperless office we are striving for. Define a clear goal and start, for example, with the digitization of accounting and internal communication. Also ensure that all colleagues in the team are committed to the common goal of a paperless office.
"The world changes by your example, not by your opinion."Paulo Coelho (more at Environmental protection quotes)
I really hope that I could help you with these tips for a low paper consumption and a paperless office. Do you have any questions, suggestions or further tips? Then I look forward to your comments.
Stay sustainable and conserve resources,
PS: Less paper at work usually means our eyes are exposed to flickering screens more often than usual. How you can improve your Permanently save your eyes on the computerI'll explain this to you now in the next blog article.
₁ WWF Germany: Turning forests into paper (as of 10.11.2021), available at https://www.wwf.de/themen-projekte/waelder/papierverbrauch/zahlen-und-fakten. [12.06.2023].
₂ J. Trauth, E. Schönheit (2016): Paper Compass, 16th edition, Forum Ecology & Paper, August 2016, p.4.
₃ P. Liegl: Interesting facts about the paperless office (as of 26.4.2023), available at https://ecosio.com/de/blog/interessante-fakten-zum-papierlosen-buero. [12.06.2023].
₄ NABU: Paper consumption in Germany Less writing paper and more packaging, available at https://www.nabu.de/umwelt-und-ressourcen/ressourcenschonung/papier/30377.html. [12.06.2023].