This debate about environmental vs economical is getting more and more prevalent, especially when businesses are really strapped for cash. A lot of companies say they’re environmentally friendly but when times are tough, guess what the first thing to go is? Suddenly the company doesn’t have time to be as good of friends with the environment as it used to be. And I totally get it, being green takes a lot of green.
I know, I know, that article is almost 10 years old but the same idea rings true today. Going green still has a pretty high barrier to entry, although much lower than it was in 2007. So yeah, I totally agree, a lot of companies have a really tough time becoming a green company (especially in manufacturing, utility, construction and other old school industries) but for most, it shouldn’t be that hard.
Let’s just look at one aspect, albeit a big one, of a business that can make a huge difference for the environment (and your company credit card).
Heavy paper usage unequivocally has a snowball effect - and not just in color. Let’s break down a bunch of the costs associated with heavy paper usage;
- First and the most obvious cost, printing. Printers cost money, paper costs money, ink costs money, it costs money to fix when the printer goes down (and it most certainly will go down).
- Second, now that we’re printing all of that paper, we need somewhere to put it. Folders might work for a little bit but soon we’re going to be talking about a file cabinet purchase(s). Not to mention that file cabinets really can’t store that much when compared to on site databases, external hard drives, or cloud storage capabilities.
- Third, what happens when you misplace that piece of paper? Look for it for an hour or two? Print off another? What if it was a really important document for a client? All of that has potential costs attributed to it.
- Fourth, if a company is still in the stone age and primarily mails documents to clients, shame on them. Envelopes, paper, stamps, etc. all add up and just straight up don’t make sense anymore given the alternatives.
- Fifth, just the time it takes to make all of these documents. Trust me as someone who has spent many an internship and career designing, testing, printing, getting feedback, redesigning, printing again, finalizing and then printing anytime someone needed that one document, it’s just a waste of time.
At Dominion we try to create pages of resources our clients get utility out of and put it in an easily accessible place so they can grab whatever they need, whenever they need it.
Not to mention payroll/hr has always been a very 'paper intensive' industry. The first couple jobs I had used a lot of paper during the onboarding process. Filling out personal information forms, W-4s, and getting set-up for payroll all took forever and those same documents were lost more than once. Working in a restaurant gets messy, so when my paper check was destroyed by a rogue can of tomato sauce multiple times, guess who was biting the cost to print more off for me (and anyone else affected)?
So how do you convince coworkers and superiors that being more paper conscious is the right move for your company? Luckily there are a number of really good reasons anyone at your company can stand behind.
- It’s more efficient for them. Trust me, just sharing a google doc with key team members is much easier and faster than passing around a printed piece of paper.
- It saves the company money (see above).
- There’s a lot of awards for the ‘most sustainable’ businesses. You might be thinking, who cares about awards?
A lot of employees should care these awards - specifically marketing, sales and executives. Marketing gets free publicity, a chance to show company culture and depending on the popularity of the award organization, a lot of web traffic. Sales gets another thing to brag about when they’re out meeting with prospects or current clients. And executives get to network with other highly influential executives in their community who have also received these awards.
Finally, you’ll reach a point where you’ll need to convince those executive decision makers that this is the right move for your company.
- First step, run an audit of everything you’re spending money on that uses paper and could be updated to not use paper.
- Second step, price out what it would cost to switch to those new processes (whether it be using slack, cloud storage, on-site storage, etc.).
- Third, plan out how all of these processes would work together to alleviate the need for paper.
- Fourth, go pitch it!
This process always reminds me of the current investment of buying an electric vehicle. The barrier to entry to purchasing an EV is definitely higher than a traditional car, but year over year, the electric car more than recoups the initial high costs by cutting down or eliminating gas, oil changes, and frequent engine checkups. Also realizing what you can get in alternative tax credits for electric vehicles can take off even more from the sticker shock of the purchase.
If you want to feel even more inspired, this is a great read on one company that did go completely paperless and how it’s worked out for them.