Why Going Paperless Is A Smarter & More Sustainable Way To Run A Business

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  • Post last modified:February 22, 2021
Go Paperless for a sustainable business model.

Thinking about turning your company into a paperless operation? Great idea. Cutting paper out of the equation is a smarter and more sustainable way to run a modern business. 

More and more businesses are adopting a paperless approach to internal and external operations because it not only helps the environment but also improves overall efficiency on a large scale. In this article we explore the following ways going paperless is the right move for your business: 

  • Consumers expect modern businesses to be more environmentally aware
  • Transitioning to digital receipts makes claiming back business expenses much easier 
  • Adopting paperless storage is a more secure way to store sensitive information

Read on as we unpack the benefits of going paperless and show you how to make the switch for yourself. 

Modern businesses need to show environmental awareness

We don’t know exactly how climate change will alter our planet in the future, but we do know it’s a major concern and business plays a vital role in setting a precedence for sustainability right here, right now. 

Modern businesses need leaders to look internally and understand their firm’s contribution to climate change and identify solutions that will offset their carbon footprint. 

While every business will approach climate change in a unique way, there is likely one factor burdening most companies in one way or another: paper. 

Some people cling to the idea that signing legally binding documents means putting pen to paper, resulting in the average office worker printing an estimated 10,000 pages per year (filling 450 cubic yards of landfill space in the process). But it’s now common to sign for deliveries using electronic tablets and even sign work contracts via e-signatures.

Why going paperless is a smart way to meet sustainability demand 

With a high demand for corporations (and small operations) to find a greener way of doing business, allowing paper wastage is an unfortunate byproduct of a bygone era. 

Tablets, smartphones, and other efficiency-boosting technologies have long since replaced the fax machine, now it’s likely time they also bypass the need for paper entirely. 

Need some more convincing? Going paperless comes with many environmental benefits. Here are a few reasons to ditch the reams of paper clogging up your office space: 

  • Reduce your carbon footprint: Turning a single tree into paper releases around 110lbs of Co2 into the atmosphere. 
  • Slow global warming: Trees are natural carbon sinks, the more trees you save by not buying paper the more carbon dioxide is removed from our atmosphere. 

While many individuals are recycling more and trying to do their bit for the environment, businesses are prone to unsustainable habits like paper wastage on an industrial scale. 

Adopting a paperless operation may feel inconsequential, but in practice, this small change can make a big difference to your environmental impact. 

Digital receipts make claiming back expenses more efficient

Jumping through hoops to claim back business expenses? Going paperless not only settles your business conscience but can also prove your business acumen. 

Running a business also means you’re fighting an uphill battle to get the most from your employees without burying them in admin work. At no point is this more keenly felt than when trying to claim back your expenses while juggling other pressing areas of the business. 

On paper (pun firmly intended), claiming back expenses helps secure your profit margin against inevitable business costs like fuel and other supplies, but in reality, the process can be long and arduous, especially if you’re relying on physical receipts. 

Why? Because collecting paper receipts has numerous disadvantages compared to storing the same information online. For instance, when using digital receipts you can: 

  • Backup files more securely: paper receipts are easily misplaced, but digital receipts are backed up online using a secure management system, which means you can index files and even digitize your existing collection of paper receipts.
  • Manage information more efficiently: many governmental tax departments such as HMRC or the IRS require businesses to retain records for a minimum number of years, so storing this information online is far more efficient than overwhelming your finance team with mountains of paper. 

Digitizing your receipts can make the whole ordeal more efficient — and using business payment cards is one solution to the problem, which can be adopted across many industries. 

Why business-specific credit cards are a smart way to go paperless

While business credit cards are the most general way to go paperless, often your business can benefit from going a little more niche. There are lots of different cards, some suitable, others not so much. Here’s an idea of what’s available to your company:

  • Fuel cards: Many companies rely on vehicles to go about their daily business, but this incurs a hefty fuel bill which can be mediated by claiming back tax. Fuel cards (like this one) offer your business a way to receive/store fuel payments as tax-approved digital receipts in an app rather than expecting drivers to keep hold of paper slips. 
  • Trade cards: Many construction companies and other tradesmen get bogged down in the admin work that comes with buying job supplies. Trade cards (like this example) help to make big tasks much smaller by keeping a digital record of tools/materials and separates item value from added tax such as VAT, which makes invoicing your clients much more clear when the job is completed. 

When talking about business cards (be it credit cards, fuel cards, trade cards, or any other similar payment method), people generally fall into one of two categories: some live by the cash flow benefits; others are deterred by the prospect of borrowing more than they can currently afford. 

Whichever camp you fall into, it’s hard to argue against these cards’ ability to help your business benefit from adopting a paperless accounting process, but as with any form of credit, such cards are best used with caution. 

Make sure you only buy what you deem to be essential to the job and settle your bills on time. Thankfully, going paperless means you can keep on top of both factors without worrying about losing important information to the recycling bin. 

Paperless storage is a more secure way to hold information

Corporate identity theft is an ever-pressing concern for modern businesses because they make tempting targets — and by sticking with outdated paper storage you leave yourself with few safeguards to defend against it. 

As a business, you likely hold onto a lot of sensitive information: national insurance numbers, contact details, client data, contracts, and much more. Ditching paper for digital solutions like cloud storage helps better protect this information against theft, thereby reducing disruption in your operation and avoiding damage to your reputation. 

Transitioning to a paperless world allows you to lock down information behind a password-protected encrypted algorithm, rather than risk paperwork being left around the office ripe for the taking. 

With a physical filing system, it’s difficult to restrict access on a per-document basis. Once someone unlocks your cabinet, they can wade through every document and pose a real risk to private information. 

By taking advantage of the Internet of Things and adopting a cloud storage solution you can maintain access to those who require the information but also implement restrictions to those who don’t. Many businesses take a firm stance and only grant access to employees who need specific information for their job. 

Why cloud storage is a business savvy way to protect information

Need to protect sensitive information and believe cloud storage might be the way to go? This software comes in many shapes and sizes. Here are a few options available to your business: 

  • Object storage
  • File storage
  • Block storage

With cybercrime also posing a threat to modern businesses, you’d be forgiven for thinking migrating online is a risky strategy – but in practice, cloud storage is likely the safest place to store your information. This is because cloud storage provides: 

  • Consistent security updates: Most cloud storage solutions (like Google Drive) receive automatic updates from the supplier, meaning you don’t have to worry about manually keeping your software up-to-date. 
  • Built-in firewalls: A filtering process that removes suspicious traffic and secures data. 
  • Data encryption: Many services encrypt your data, which scrambles information so it’s unreadable to anyone other than authorized users. 
  • Two-factor authentication: This makes hacker’s lives much more difficult by requiring you to enter two pieces of information to access documents. 

Corporate crime continually evolves offline and online, but with digital solutions, you can keep up with the pace and build ever-updating protection rather than investing in a comically large safe to store information.  

As technology advances, going paperless is becoming easier and easier. Now we’re seeing this way of doing business as normal and ultimately the most efficient way of running your operation. 

You have the tools needed to make the switch and the know-how to make it work, so say goodbye to overflowing file cabinets and hello to a streamlined digital future. 

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.