Guide to Going Paperless in the Workplace


Review our guide to going paperless in the workplace to save money and eliminate waste.

A paperless office may sound impossible, but it can be a seamless transition with a few helpful pointers. If you want to save money and protect our environment, use this guide to going paperless in the workplace for a greener office in six easy steps:

  1. Choose a digital storage system
  2. Scan and shred sensitive documents
  3. Ditch paper for everyday tasks
  4. Send emails instead of faxes or snail-mail
  5. Avoid unnecessary printing
  6. Send contracts and invoices online

Find out more about each of these sustainable office practices and how to implement them at your office below.

Choose a digital storage system

The first step toward going paperless in the workplace is to determine where you are going to store, edit, and track your documents. We recommend using a cloud file storage system like Dropbox or Google Drive. These systems allow for effortless storing of all your documents and files in one place. And because it’s cloud-based, you don’t have to worry about maxing out physical storage space or misplacing your files. An added benefit to these storage systems is that they allow for real-time collaboration among your team members. That means several people can make changes to the document at once. You can rest easy knowing that the file you access is the most up-to-date version.

Once you’ve selected a new business storage system online, organize your files using virtual folders and subfolders for easy access.

Scan and shred sensitive documentsOne step to going paperless in the workplace is to scan and shred important documents.

Now that you have digital cloud-based storage, you can move any important paper documents over to it by scanning them in. Make sure to shred any confidential documents immediately afterward. We recommend using a shredder rated at least security 3 for these sensitive files. Browse our selection for the top office shredders on the market (login required to view).

Ditch paper for everyday tasks

There are several everyday office tasks where paper could easily be swapped out for a digital equivalent. For instance, use a Notetaking app on your computer instead of a paper notebook. You can also use your built-in desktop calendar or Google Calendar to plan for events rather than using a physical planner. Lastly, use reminders or a task manager like Trello or Asana instead of physical sticky notes to plan out the day.

Send emails instead of faxes or snail-mail

Instead of sending faxes or regular mail through the US Postal Service, you can choose to send files and other messages digitally through email. With roughly 188 million pieces of mail that are delivered every day, you can reduce paper waste and gain the bonus of keeping a record of your correspondence in email storage.

Use our guide to email signature etiquette with dos and don’ts to make a good impression.

Avoid unnecessary printing

Stop printing emails, internal documents, and other unnecessary paperwork! Instead, reference the digital versions saved in your company’s cloud-based file storage system – you’ll help to cut back on the 65% of printing that gets thrown away or recycled that very same day!

If you usually print materials for external meetings or presentations, take these documents digitally and pull them up on a laptop in the room. You can also set up a projector or use a web-based conferencing tool to share your screen. This additional step toward going paperless in the workplace can help save money and resources on printed materials you won’t need after the meeting is over.

Send contracts and invoices online

Strive to do business online with your customers and clients. For contracts, send them via email or use a digital signature tool like DocuSign. When sending invoices, use a program like Quickbooks or another digital bookkeeping platform rather than mail a paper version. By pushing your customer interactions into the digital space, it may also be easier to track the status of a proposal or payment.

These six easy sustainable office practices can help you get started with going paperless in the workplace. While it may be challenging to adopt a paperless mentality at the office, it can undoubtedly pay off by saving you money, keeping your business organized and clutter-free, and helping to protect our natural resources.

Learn more about protecting the environment in our guide to adopting a business sustainability program. Find even more helpful tips and sustainable office practices in our office productivity and sustainability blog.