Where you can, turn your business activities into digital and virtual
When I launched my business almost 6 years ago, I carried around files (no longer GDPR compliant to do so), a laptop with lots of memory sticks and printed off HR paperwork for new appointments (offer letters, contracts and even employee handbooks). Looking back now, this was a huge waste of resources (paper/printing ink/folders/envelopes/staples/paperclips). Who still prints off all the HR paperwork?
One day, I was working at a clients office and noticed how clean it looked. No one was stressing at the printer breaking down. There were no bins under desks, just recycling points and no one had a set of drawers under their desk. And this was a call centre. I was trying to get my head around what was happening, then it suddenly dawned on me, they were paperless. I can honestly say I did not think it was possible for an organisation of around 800 employees to be that conscientious. The stats for it were unbelievable. So not only did they save on recycled and waste collection costs, they had reduced costs on the printer servicing, paper, printer cartridges as well as for pens, envelopes and folders etc.
At that point I was starting to attract many eco sector companies and thought I needed to pull my finger out and try and work out how I could become paperless at absolutely no cost. So, I started looking at my desk and office space. I literally had three cupboards full of paperwork as well as drawer pedestals. A lot of it admitally was training documents, or templates I’d picked up along the way, but also clients paperwork that was not required or there was a digital version. So I sifted and scanned and sifted and scanned for 6 weeks. It was an exhausting process, but felt so good when it ended. I was also helping a client to do just the same.
I then decided that I would not print any more documents and I would email clients paperwork and if they choose to print it off, that would be up to them, but I tried to encourage clients not to print and instead to ask the employee to drop a scanned signature onto the document and then email back. Back in the old days, I used to print off contracts of employments and employee handbooks etc and then I’d post them out to the new employee. Sometimes not even arriving and another copy needed to be sent.
I then thought I could share clients documents via a portal and I chose Dropbox. The thinking behind this was easy, it’s GDPR secure and also makes it easier and quicker for the client to find information from me. I’d always share a document from the Dropbox account via email so they had it in two ways.
At the same time I decided to upload content. This was content that I would usually have in explorer on my pc saved as ‘HR Advice’. So the content was there, I just needed to find a platform to share it. In June I was able to create a resource centre for my clients and then in September I discovered a blogging site. Once the content was designed and uploaded I knew it would save me time in the long run as if my client had a query, I could send them information from any of these sources so I would not have to spend time explaining things by typing an email each time.
So that’s covered how I became digital, how did I become virtual? I became a little bit of a fan of Whatsapp, Skype and Zoom. I was able to record testimonials for my service providers, do podcasts, have virtual meetings, make phone calls and so on. I used to spend half of my working life on the road visiting clients. I now don’t need to do that after the initial consultation with my client unless they need a lot of handholding. Instead I am able to provide 98% of my service digitally and the other 2% is for onsite meetings, facilitating training etc.
I’ve also made a conscious decision not to buy paper, plastic and so on. This has also kept my business cards down to a minimum. I think the last time I posted something in an envelope must have been about a year ago.
A lot of my clients find it extremely hard to go paperless for a number of reasons. I fully understand that. I feel we have a duty to start somewhere. Maybe start with sifting the personnel files, and then scanning them. After all they now need to be GDPR compliant so there is much information that needs to be extracted and disposed of. One of my clients asked me to scan and sift over 400 personnel files for leavers and existing employees. It took a while, but in the end we had just 75 files which we needed to scan. We uploaded them to their new HR software as they really wanted to ensure that all documents relating to employees were saved somewhere secure and there was no longer the temptation to print things out.
I can highly recommend Breathe HR software for this. But if you don’t want to use software, ensure these records are saved somewhere securely, perhaps dropbox or another cloud website and limit access to it.
In July 2018 my business was awarded the Paperless Logo. I was so proud. My business was also voted as the 5th most ethical business in the UK by Twitter followers in June 2018.
I am working with many of my clients to help them get to a paperless point. My next mission is to become carbon neutral.
If you want to know more about how I became paperless and what options are available to you, please get in touch:
Tania De Bruler | 01905 317537 | email@example.com