On a trip to my local office supplies retailer yesterday I waited in the checkout line behind a lady who told me she was there on a paper and toner cartridge run. If you had asked me two days ago to name the price of a toner cartridge, I would have guessed no more than $30 (in my defense, the Shoeboxed office is about as close to being paperless as you can get), so you can imagine my surprise when I heard the grand total for her two items, a whopping $150. Just when I thought the lady was going to tell the salesclerk that he must have made a mistake, she smiled and handed over her credit card. Clicking ‘print’ is expensive.
In 1975 an article in BusinessWeek announced: “By 1990, most record handling will be electronic.” Over thirty years later, we have the technology to make the paperless dream a reality, but today’s businesses are continuing to click print at an alarming rate, and at huge costs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year. While yearly paper consumption varies significantly for companies of different types and sizes, paper is still one of the largest office supply expenses for businesses big and small.
To satisfy their paper appetites, small businesses spend between $30 and $40 a month per employee on paper and various office supplies involved in using paper. If you have five employees, that means you could be spending as much as $2,400 a year on things like paper, ink, toner cartridges, notepads, envelopes, folders, binders, paper clips, staples, highlighters, pens and pencils.
But the costs don’t stop there. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, businesses spend $20 in labor to file a paper document, $120 to find a misfiled document, and $220 to reproduce a document. They also found that 7.5% of all paper documents get lost!
The environmental costs of using paper for everything go without saying.
While going paperless might seem like a huge undertaking, it’s actually a lot easier and more affordable than you might think. Consider this: instead of throwing away $2,400 a year on paper paraphernalia, you could use that money to invest in paperless technology. Tablet PCs and iPads can greatly improve productivity and enhance collaboration by making it faster and easier for employees to create, store, retrieve and exchange information.
For existing paper documents and things like receipts and business cards, there are trustworthy and affordable services out there (cough, Shoeboxed, cough) that can quickly turn the contents of your filing cabinets into digitized data that are organized and securely stored for you online. To be fair, there are also scanners available on the market today that can help you go paperless, but these can be pricey and sometimes also require you to buy expensive software, not to mention that you’ll have to find the time to actually do the scanning.
Regardless of whether you outsource document scanning to a service like Shoeboxed or do the scanning yourself, opt for a trusted cloud-based storage system for your digitized documents instead of saving them to your computer. By storing your documents online in the cloud you’ll be able to access them in seconds anytime, anywhere, and you you’ll never have to worry about losing everything if your computer ever crashes or is otherwise compromised.
If cutting costs, increasing productivity and saving the environment are not enough to convince you to stop clicking print, how’s this for a reason—no more paper cuts!?