It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of businesses going green or paperless seemed like a concept for only the most forward thinking of companies. In fact, many of these early adopters leveraged it by touting their green efforts in marketing and PR.
These days, the idea of companies going green isn’t necessarily headline-worthy. This could be misinterpreted that it was simply a passing fad. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the reason these efforts aren’t reported as much in the news is because it has become an expected part of doing business.
Globally recognised organisations such as Dell, Starbucks, Apple, DuPont, Facebook, eBay, Google, even Coca Cola, have taken major strides in eco-friendly and sustainable business practices. This is partially due to social responsibility, but it’s also a strategic way to remain relevant in the future business environment. Smart companies are seeking more innovative methods of promoting eco-friendly environments by integrating paperless practices into their operations.
And yet, you don’t have to be a major conglomerate to make a difference in the environment while reaping the benefits of going green and paperless, most notably in cost-savings. Let’s take a look at some of the simplest ways your IT department can help make the transition.
If collaboration is a necessity, a paperless office can greatly improve it. Powerful tools like Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365 make on-screen collaboration possible by allowing multiple people to work on a shared document simultaneously, even chat with colleagues who are viewing the same document at the same time. This avoids your staff printing ten different versions of the same document, which is a wasteful and expensive use of paper.
Basecamp is another popular system for document collaboration and sharing. It stores documents and conversations/emails by topic, but unlike Google Docs, it does not allow for two colleagues to simultaneously edit the same document.
The Cloud is one of the biggest steps forward towards the paperless office, and its benefits are starting to make a significant impact on businesses around the world.
One of the largest costs associated with paper is the printing and storage of copies. This involves regular spending on paper, ink, and the upkeep of office equipment. A paperless office eliminates these costs immediately.
This also includes the costs of space required to store paper documents and the filing cabinets they’re stored in. Business owners must pay for larger office space to accommodate employees, offices, equipment—and enormous amounts of paper.
Minimising is simple. Only buy what you actually need. Let’s face it, the lion’s share of employees don’t require the fastest, biggest computer available. Word processing, email and browsing rarely require more than 1GB of RAM or an ultra-fast quad-core processor. Buy computers with the minimum required, while allowing for some future growth.
Does your company replace computers simply because they are considered old? Old is subjective. If they’re still in perfect working order, do you really need to replace them? And when you do, ensure that you choose computers that are designed to last.
Unless there is a specific reason for a large computer, smaller ones use less materials to manufacture and are easier on our limited resources. Plus mini-servers and desktop PCs save desk and server rack space.
Your typical desktop PC can use approximately 80W of electricity, not including the monitor and peripherals. However, the better designed energy-efficient computers use less than 10W. That’s a significant difference. Particularly since these savings add up in both emissions and running costs.
You can maximise these savings by using energy-saving software and settings on your computers.
A very simple yet effective approach to paperless IT is to switch from PCs to thin clients. Thin clients provide a similar user experience to PCs, but consume only a fraction of the energy.
A thin client is a more compact piece of computing technology that accesses data remotely through a connection to a server and brings a virtual desktop to the user. Sure, there was a time when these “dummy terminals” lagged far behind a traditional PC in terms of utility and functionality, but they have since evolved to be very competitive in terms of both usability and price.
These days, thin-client terminals have much better energy eﬃciency than traditional thick clients. They consume anywhere from 6 to 50 watts, far less than the 150 to 350 watts used by typical PCs, and this reduced power also decreases CO2 emissions.
In addition, because there is no hard drive and a limited microprocessor and memory requirements, sp there is less ecologically damaging waste. And with limited components, the price per thin client ends up being much less.
Turning off a fax machine means you risk receiving an important fax. This is why Energy Star concluded that fax machines are at the top of the list when it comes to energy consuming office equipment.
Carbon dioxide is created by an electrical connection. A single fax machine can consume around 321 kilowatt a year which annually emits almost 200 kg of CO2. Combine all of the fax machines in Europe and we’re looking at millions of kgs per year.
Then there is the issue of trees. A single half box of paper equals the destruction of a 15 year-old tree. Then there is the massive use of ink cartridges, which take 450 years to decompose in landfills. Not a pretty picture.
Fortunately, there is an extremely simple solution: Cloud faxing. Faxing through the Internet allows users to receive incoming faxes on a laptop, tablet or smartphone—from anywhere. This not only provides total mobility with faxing, it also enables users to choose which messages actually require paper copies. This will lead to a significant reduction in paper, ink and toner usage. Faxing through the web reduces paper consumption, electricity, as well as ink/toner.
For these reasons, many companies are already unplugging their fax machines and turning to Cloud fax services. Find out more about our eFax Corporate® solution.
Perhaps the most important takeaway here is that small actions can make a big impact. By adopting just one or two of these simple solutions, it can amount to significant changes to the environment and your company’s budget.