By: Colin Yates, chief support officer at .
Whilst the pandemic has drastically impacted our everyday lives, it has also brought with it a huge disruption to businesses’ sustainability goals. Due to the pandemic, 6 in 10 UK businesses ended up cutting their environment-related investments, and previous steps that were taken to address emissions and sustainability targets have been relegated to the background.
However, whilst corporate sustainability fell in priority due to the pandemic forcing attention onto other, more pressing, operational matters, the same shift did not happen in relation to customer and employee expectations around sustainability. Businesses are increasingly expected to be more transparent about their emissions and the processes that they use, and employees are also demanding more from the organisations that they choose to work for in terms of their green credentials.
One way that businesses can minimise carbon footprints and further their sustainability journey is the relatively simple step of going paperless. Eliminating paper-based processes and investing in alternative digital solutions, such as apps, that employees can use to complete various tasks whether working from the office, home, or out in the field, can make a huge difference to a business’s sustainability credentials.
Not only are there are many sustainability related advantages for businesses when becoming a paperless workplace, but it can also have a positive impact on employee engagement, efficiency, productivity and compliance too, making it a no-brainer in the current difficult business landscape.
Going paperless is easier now with remote working
Over the past eighteen months, businesses have had to find ways to support staff to do their jobs while minimising time spent in the office where possible. This has understandably meant that digital approaches have become the go-to solution as the main way that employees can communicate, share and send information.
Therefore, taking the steps towards becoming a paperless business might not as drastic as it once might have initially seemed.
However, if an organisation is yet to embrace digital solutions, having a look at where paper is most heavily used and understanding whether it is necessary to keep paper files over saving things digitally is a good start.
Next, researching other tools available that can replace these particular paper documents, such as employee-facing apps, can enable this paperless change moving forward.
Apps/digital tools are efficient and data is more secure
Digitising paper processes does not only help to reduce a business’s environmental impact, but it also helps to safeguard against essential or confidential documents being damaged or misplaced, protecting the business from compliance issues. And, because digital documents are stored in the cloud, authorised users can access the documents anywhere, at any time, from a mobile device.
Similarly, for employees that may be out on-site visits or away from the physical office, apps can be quickly used to input information and send it over to team members at other sites. This boosts the speed of sending and sharing data that is understandably slower, if physical paper copies need to be sent and transferred around an organisation.
Digital solutions can also eliminate the need to manually input data that has been recorded outside of the office. This means that the amount of time that needs to be spent on administrative duties is kept to a minimum, as all data only needs to be recorded once. This presents a valuable opportunity for streamlining these processes, therefore improving efficiency and giving staff more time to spend on other, more productive activities.
Employees will support the initiative
Finally, anything that makes employees’ lives easier will likely be supported by the workforce. And, as consumers and employees are starting to increasingly be aware of their environmental impact and businesses’ green credentials, any initiatives that demonstrate a sustainable agenda will no doubt be greeted with enthusiasm.
To gain employee backing for a paperless initiative, communicating the benefits of the decision and advocating for the advantages of digital solutions will ensure that the whole organisation gets behind the green agenda. With the ease of sharing data, quicker speed for collecting information, and supporting the jobs that employees carry out each day, reducing reliance on paper for the convenience of digital use, will be an easy fit for any forward-thinking and sustainably conscious organisation.
With the UK setting its sights on achieving net-zero by 2035, businesses are needing to make environmentally conscious choices now to meet this deadline. After a year of remote working, and digital tools becoming increasingly popular, cutting out the use of paper within an organisation is just one simple and inexpensive step businesses can make to push its green agenda and ensure that it is working towards a more sustainable future.