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Image CC credit Jean Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier

Paper diet challenge to celebrate World Paper Free Day

As part of today’s World Paper Free Day (6 November), Crown Records Management is challenging businesses to begin a paper diet campaign.

Whilst digitising information improves access to information, business performance and customer service, the processes and cultural change required to accomplish this goal is not as easy as everyone believes, claim Crown Records.

To help businesses kickstart their way to a paperless office, Crown Records have put together seven tips to help introduce a diet campaign within the workplace.

1 Develop a retention policy 
Start by developing a retention policy and a secure records destruction process. A records retention policy will provide guidance on what records must be retained for legal or auditing purposes, and what paper records you can destroy now. Plan ahead and prepare for audits throughout the year.

2 Shred it
Now you’ve got a policy in place you’ll need to shred your unwanted information securely. It’s not only impractical but unnecessary to hold onto everything you no longer need to keep. Experts can help you establish what should be securely disposed of and provide the means to do it. Secure destruction not only involves paper waste, but can also include laptops, mobile phones, hard drives and even uniforms.

3 Change management
Companies often lack understanding about how reducing the amount of paper can actually help them to achieve other business objectives but also improve information security.  Employee behaviour also needs to be changed but this this is influenced by the environment and leadership implementing a clear strategy. Appointing paper champions who have an understanding of the new retention and destruction policies can be helpful, so individuals know who to go to with any queries or concerns.

4 Heavy paper to big data
Move to digitising your information – so you can access it quickly. A scanning and digitising solution can be a start, leading to a professional records management programme that will not only reduce risk, but also provide faster access to information.

The first objective is to identify and collect all your paper – the documents you no longer need access to or use regularly but are legally required to keep – and move them somewhere secure, preferably off site, or scan and save them onto a cloud platform.

5 Ownership vs. guardianship 
Whether you own the data or act as a guardian over it, anyone who accesses it must take responsibility for how it is used. Duplication of data is a huge issue as it generally isn’t tracked and can be sitting in someone’s inbox, private drive, shared drive, or printed out or stuck on an internal server. Utilise your paper champions to drive training and incentives internally to promote the diet.

6 Carrying out a print audit to understand how much paper you use 
You’d be surprised how much unnecessary printing you action in your organisation. Ask yourself and your colleagues ‘Does it really need to be printed?’

Utilise print management systems to monitor paper and spend in order to be cost-effective.  This can be aided by password protected printers which make it difficult to print. Alternatively implement a ‘paper fast’ by limiting the amount of paper being used or unplugging the printers for a couple of days – the world won’t stop turning.

7 Stay paper light  
Once you have successfully reduced the paper in your office you need to establish a strategy to maintain it. Everyone needs to take responsibility for the information around them and embrace the new strategy and policies to help govern data and limit paper use.

About Sarah OBeirne

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