Sunday April 22nd is Earth Day, an annual event which drives awareness on the topics of environmentalism and climate change. Founded in 1970, Earth Day continues to grow in influence, as it mobilises millions worldwide to work together and live responsibly.
Earth Day focuses on a range of campaigns including deforestation, in order to help compensate for the 15bn trees lost each year to feed the demand for paper, at home and in the office. In fact, our reliance on paper is growing so much, that the average office worker uses upwards of 45 pieces of paper a day, with two-thirds of that ending up as waste! Yet, with environmentalists predicting that rainforests may vanish altogether within 100 years, it’s a warning to us all that things must change.
Benefits of a paper-free office
Due to the nature of the job, accountants and bookkeepers generate a lot of paper, which can quickly stack up in the office. With even the smallest firms typically storing thousands of documents for clients, going paper-free may seem daunting to start with. However, alongside the inherent environmental benefits, there are numerous operational and financial gains in transferring your physical files to digital records. Here are three of them:
Driving a culture of change
When implementing a paper-free strategy, and whether your team is two or twenty, it will be important for everyone to be on board. Employees may not always embrace change, so discuss the benefits of working digitally with your team and create reports on how much paper your office prints per year. Set targets to help reduce this amount.
You may find it effective to place recycling bins around the office so employees can more visibly see waste and the impact of unnecessary printing. Elsewhere, ask your office manager to request email billing, over posted statements from your service providers.
Preparing for the GDPR
Paper documents can easily get lost, or fall into the wrong hands, therefore digitising your records and implementing ‘a clear desk policy’, will not only better organise this data, but help to keep it protected. Taking this approach will also help businesses comply with the upcoming GDPR legislation, which, from May 25th, will impact how firms working with European-based clients, manage and handle their data.
Information which can lead to an individual being identified, i.e. personal data on employees and clients, can’t be stored for any longer than necessary and must be disposed of securely. Businesses will need show evidence of what data they are holding, and for what purpose. Therefore, it makes sense to have information stored digitally in order to be able to adhere to these policies effectively.
Using technology to support your green initiative
Digital tools are available to automate and streamline almost every line of business. With the strategic application of the right technology, firms can work more efficiently, whilst reducing their use of paper. Here are three examples:
Automating data entry is key
Here at AutoEntry, our goal is to be part of the paper-free movement, by providing OCR-based software which helps accountants and bookkeepers automate their bookkeeping data entry. AutoEntry works by capturing and analysing details from scanned and photographed bank and credit card statements, bills, invoices, expenses and receipts and inputs them directly into a user’s accounting software; integrating with all major accounting software providers including QuickBooks, Xero and Sage. Available with a mobile app, AutoEntry allows users to scan receipts on the move, and having posted the data to a user’s accounts software, the solution can act as your online filing cabinet, storing your documents for as long as you need, retrievable at the touch of a button.
So to celebrate Earth Day this year, think twice before printing, posting and photocopying documents unnecessarily. Consider using an automated bookkeeping solution to not only help eliminate the time and cost of manual data entry, but to help your office go green and reduce its consumption of paper.