Earth Day serves as a friendly annual reminder that our day-to-day actions have a tangible effect on the natural environment around us. When it comes to a business setting, we want to those day-to-day actions to be as efficient and practical as possible, which sometimes means the environment takes a backseat to more business-driven priorities. But, what’s green can also be the most productive option from a managerial standpoint, and the two concepts are not mutually exclusive.
There are many actions that business managers can take that both increase the efficiency of their operations, but can also help accomplish tasks in a more environmentally friendly manner. As Earth Day is quickly approaching – falling on April 22nd – Novitex compiled four tips to help run a more efficient, productive, and ‘greener’ office this year.
1) Implement Remote Work Policies
While there are exceptions, most companies do not own outright the office building in which they operate. Logically, this makes business managers hesitant or hinders their ability to make changes to their physical office space that can help create a more green, and efficient environment. While you may have limited control over your office space, the way that you manage your employees is entirely up to the executives within the enterprise. One viable employee management approach that can create both a more efficient, and green corporate environment is implementing a remote work policy. On any given workday at large corporations, nearly 50% of dedicated work stations could be empty. If a substantial amount of your employees are consistently working from home or an external site – like those in an outside sales role for example – you may be able to consolidate your physical footprint. This has a dual set of benefits. It saves the enterprise money directly by potentially reducing real estate costs as one. And next, it also produces less direct savings (and benefits for the environment), in that the smaller an office space, the less resources are needed to keep it climate controlled and lighted.
While implementing a remote work policy is one strategy to help reduce office space, consume less energy, and create a more efficient operation in the process, be sure to put the proper support in place to help your new policy run smoothly. You may need to implement a system for employees to reserve workspaces for when they are in the office, and should consider streamlining your office visitor experience as well.
2) Create Digital Databases of Documents
Scanning and indexing documents to create searchable, digital databases of documents – as opposed to physical file cabinets or storage lockers – is another strategy that can help an office run both more efficiently, and in a more environmentally-friendly manner. In terms of environmental benefits, removing paper from business processes has some obvious ones – chiefly that less paper needs to be used within day-to-day operations. Another benefit is that as paper is removed from processes, and more files are created in digital, as opposed to physical form – office space footprints can be reduced. In fact, many enterprises – law firms as one example – house so many physical records that secure storage requires a second location – a cost of business that can be reduced when documents are primarily digital.
The benefits that digitization produces from a business efficiency standpoint are slightly less obvious – but are also substantial. Removing paper from business processes can both make them more environmentally friendly, and more efficient in a variety of ways. Databases are easily searchable when compared to file cabinets, and digital documents even provide a built-in disaster recovery benefit, as they won’t be lost in the event of a flood or fire at your office space. But good file management goes beyond tracking outgoing documentation. Information governance best practices factor in more than that – daily interactions with clients need to be logged, telephone messages and emails all need to be archived. Paper-based systems can no longer viably keep up with the pace of business in a largely paperless world. Consciously implementing a uniform, digitally-based filing system is critical to day-to-day workflows from an efficiency standpoint, not just an environmental one.
3) Optimize Print Strategies to Reduce Waste
When considering the typical corporate print program, some alarming trends become apparent. Did you know that on average, companies spend 10 times more energy than needed on printers, and that over a billion cartridges end up in landfills every year? Or, that 17% of all printed business documents are discarded without ever being used? These issues negatively impact the environment, but they’re also far from an optimized approach to efficient print management. A managed print solution that includes rules-based printing policies can reduce negative print impacts on both efficient document workflows, and the environment.
One way that a managed print solution aids with efficiency is that it takes the responsibility of maintenance from the IT department, with the goal of preemptive problem avoidance. This both frees the IT department to perform their core functions like problem-shooting tech issues for employees, as opposed to handling print-related issues, and helps keep print equipment running smoothly with active or remote management strategies like on-site white glove service, remote resolutions, and proactive monitoring of automated services.
4) Take the Steps to Reduce Undeliverable as Addressed
The term ‘undeliverable as addressed mail’ encompasses all communications that an enterprise sends to its customers that are returned to the sender due to name and address issues. When a communication is returned, it wastes materials like envelopes, stamps, paper and ink, it is a significant drain on operational efficiency, and it negatively impacts budgets and customer experience as applied to communications. Every year, people move – and do not update their contact information with various service providers they have relationships with – which means that undeliverable as addressed mail likely cannot be avoided entirely. But the negative impacts of it on the efficiency and environmental impact of your enterprise can be minimized with automated return mail technology that includes proprietary, USPS-based address cleaning and National Change of Address database technology.
This helps keep your contact list up-to-date, and communications flowing smoothly to their intended recipients. Taking this approach to printing and mailing communications at the enterprise level helps the environment, and your enterprise alike in that you do not have to reprint and resend documents – creating savings on consumables, and helping use them more efficiently at the same time.
While the traditional thinking has been that what is good for the environment is not good for business, there are ways to increase the sustainability of your operation, which also increase the efficiency of it. And as Earth Day 2017 approaches, what better time than now to take a hard look at which areas of your operations there may be levels of efficiency, and additional environmental benefits, that are yet to be tapped.