Sunday, October 30, 2011

A paperless office

I work at an office that is moving from paper to digital resources and workflow. I have been thinking about how to do this. For example, what would happen if they took the printer away from your office? What would you do?

  1. Computers: If you want to go digital, then you have to have computers. This seems silly to say but I don't just mean a computer at your work station, but also a digital method of writing notes in meetings and such. Laptops work better, especially ones that dock and allow the user to use a screen like a desktop.
  2. Shared directories: have a shared directory for documents on a server. This means that you can save a document but everyone can see it. When you want a colleague to edit a document, send them an e-mail with a link to the document on the shared drive instead of printing them a copy. Also, on the shared directory, save documents in a logical file structure so that you and your colleagues can find things.
  3. Digital editing: I was used to printing out assignments and essays and manually editing them. Now, to save paper, I want to take advantage of editing my documents digitally. This could mean running a really good spelling and grammar checker (within the document on a tool on the web) to sending the document around as an attachment to others to edit and then send back to you.
  4. Switch to digital bills, payslips and reports: this means switching all of your bills at home to electronic stubs. If you have the option to switch to a digital paycheck and pension report, then do so. I will do the same for any other work-related reports like union updates and such.
  5. Digitize the to-do list: if you keep post-it notes or any other paper-based way of keeping a to-do list, it's time to go digital. Create a word document for each month to record your to-do list. You can update it as you have done an item and then each month, save it as the name of the next month and delete the completed tasks in the new file so that you don't have to constantly rewrite the unfinished tasks.You might even have an e-mail software that has a built in calendar and to-do list to help you stay organized.
  6. Keep a word document to record running thoughts: need to do something at home? Do you suddenly remember how to cook supper and have the urge to write it down and stuff it in your purse? Keep a USB key at work with a Word document on it and record these thoughts in the document. Open it on your computer when you get home. I call this my "Memory Management" document as I often find myself writing down things that I want to create or sudden epiphanies on how to organize my finances.
  7. Don't print off e-mails: keep them digitally, store them in an archive that is stored on a shared drive or one that is backed-up often. If an e-mail contains important information that you need for a meeting, read through it a few times before the meeting instead of printing it.
  8. Use word documents to record all actions that were taken: no matter what you are working with, but use word processing documents, spreadsheets, project software, or presentation software to keep it online. Don't print things out and submit them and don't work off of paper lists. Do it all with digital documents that are stored on a shared drive.
  9. Take screenshots: instead of printing off information so that you have a copy of a code or confirmation number, use the screenshot software on your computer (mine is called Snipping Tool because I have Windows 7) to take a screenshot and save the digital image in a folder that you will refer to for this type of information (ex. Confirmation numbers).
  10. Write up meeting notes: if you had to record meetings on paper, as soon as you get back to your desk write them up in a word document on the computer. Save it in a folder like "Team Meetings" with the date as the name of the document.


  1. Also, get a NeatOffice document scanner :)

  2. Indeed! Actually, I have a scanner like that on my Christmas list for this year. Great idea!

  3. This is what I was looking for a detailed overview of a paperless office, we are looking into implementing an automatic invoice solution in our office and I was looking for reference's thanks!