• David Remington

Saving the world can also save your bottom line!

Protecting the planet has been a focal point in the British media for the last couple of weeks, with a group called Extinction Rebellion blocking off roads and causing havoc in central London...and for good reason: climate change.

On an individual level, protecting the planet is something that’s dear to us all and important for future generations. And yet, companies have notoriously not helped this cause. Putting aside the more divisive environmental topics like fracking, this post focuses on something which every business does, why it's such a big environment problem, and how things can improve today.

With approximately 6 million businesses in the UK alone, each using countless pieces of paper on a daily basis, the total is enormous. Add in the carbon footprint from the daily commute of 30 million individuals (still just the UK) and a good helping of overseas business trips and it's a picture bleak enough for a whole new David Attenborough series.

But it's not all doom and gloom. There are a few easy ways that businesses can radically cut down on both paper and travel, without compromising their business goals:

Electronic signatures

The electronic signature company, DocuSign, is a naturally forest-friendly company. By signing important documents quickly and efficiently online, DocuSign and their customers have saved 20 billion (yes, billion) pieces of paper from being used. That’s alongside saving on the 2 million gallons of water needed to make that much paper, plus 105 million pounds of waste. And because that paper was not made, that’s 1.6 million pounds of additional CO2 that wasn’t created.

That all sounds great but what's the impact to the company and why should they do it? It has been proven that using electronic signatures closes more sales deals, quicker and easier than by using paper contracts. So a business makes more money, reduces costs and becomes more efficient. This efficiency extends far beyond just sales, to HR where new hires need to sign numerous contracts, legal NDAs and procurement managing purchasing orders. So not only does replacing wet signatures with electronic ones improve the planet, it also improves a company's top and bottom line.

Print less and go paperless

Only 22% of organisations have truly gone paperless and yet using paper is incredible inefficient for the business and bad for the environment. Let's look at the real cost to the business of using paper.

Costs Before Printing

  • The purchase of ink, paper and printers

  • Maintenance costs when printer stops working and lost business hours

  • Admin costs to ensure enough paper and ink are available

  • The storage of those supplies requiring more office space

Cost During Printing

  • Time wasted going to printer, waiting for printing or troubleshooting when printing doesn't work

  • Realising printer is out of paper or ink and spending time resolving the issue

  • Postage on sending paper documents and cost of envelopes

  • Time spent organising materials, stapling and determining what needs to be kept

Cost of Having Printed Materials

  • Difficult to find what you're looking for which wastes time and only accessible by being physically present in the office

  • The space to store materials e.g. filing cabinets

  • The cost of secure disposal of sensitive printed materials

Cost of Receiving Paper Mail

  • Admin time spent delivering mail to the right person

  • Opportunity cost from slow delivery

  • Time and cost to scan the document for electronic storage

The list goes on and on but Box is trying to change that. Going paper-free eliminates all of these business expenditures listed above and frees up office space. It also minimises the risks associated with hard-copy documents, including loss or damage to them. It saves time by every file being accessible from any where, any time and from any device and also enables a business to work together more effectively across geographies.

Going paperless at RemiTech was not only an environmental decision but an efficiency one. We have saved huge costs, become more efficient and removed geographic barriers from the workplace. Win win.

Reduce travel

In business, there are three main types of travel:

  1. Daily Commute

  2. Customer Meetings

  3. Conferences

By a business moving everything to the cloud, they enable their workforce to work from anywhere and provide more flexible working environments. Working from home just once a week, or changing your working hours to avoid traffic, reduces your commuting carbon footprint by 20% or more. It also has the added benefit of saving time.

But what does a business need to do for this to work? It needs to be as easy to work outside the office as it is within the office. Files need to be accessible, collaboration needs to be simple and communication needs to be effortless. These changes then start to work for customer meetings. Whilst initial face-to-face meetings are brilliant at building rapport, the majority of subsequent meetings can be as effective via video conferencing tools like Ring Central, Zoom or Skype. Any meeting done via video conferencing saves a load of wasted time spent travelling, a lot of hassle and eliminates the CO2.

The last type of travel, conferences, is the most challenging to replace and yet's virtual summit was a great example of how businesses can do this. I personally find networking in person at conferences very inefficient unless an app is provided to facilitate connecting with the right people. In the next few years, I expect to see a huge rise in the number or virtual conferences rather than physical ones.

By adopting these small changes and using cloud technologies, you can easily save paper, reduce waste, limit travel, and lower your carbon footprint. They also all save money and improve efficiency.

Let us know how you've reduced the carbon footprint of your business in the comments below.

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