A Paperless Pandemic…
April 21, 2021
The past year has had some positive impacts on the environment, not physically being in the office has drastically cut back on printing and paper waste. According to Gartner, printing overall was down by 40% in the first half of 2020 and it’s reasonable to think that we will not (and should not) return to pre-pandemic levels of paper use.
Where have all the people gone?
Since March 2020, the corporate hallways, boardrooms, and small business offices have been quiet, somewhat deserted and collecting some cobwebs. While our facility space has seen little traffic, our printers have also seen next to no action and that’s been a good thing for the environment as well as for our internal processes and bottom line.
In our office we’ve seen printing come to almost a complete stop. And it’s easy to understand why; we’re not there and have adjusted to working digitally.
We’ve been using email, PDFs, electronic signatures and have worked hard to ensure our shared drives are set up so they can replace the typical paper file system we used before we were locked down. We’ve even started building an intranet to further enhance our ability to share, communicate and collaborate as a team, and with our broking partners and clients.
Tangible impacts on costs and time
The impact hasn’t just been the significant reduction of paper usage, but also the time required to manage moving paper from one person to another. We’re getting things done much faster now that we don’t have to print, collate, staple, fold, stuff, post, wait for it to be received, perhaps follow up a couple times… you get the picture. And of course, we’ve also reduced the additional costs of envelops and postage. We’re more on top of renewals because we aren’t waiting on paper or the time to process it and that’s good for our brokers and clients too.
Earth Day is a good reminder to recognize that while the pandemic has had many negative impacts, it’s also served as a catalyst for change. These changes have seen us come together and supporting each other in our communities and have seen us as a society become more aware of our impact on the environment.
When we’re able to return to work and our people return to the office (in some way or another), we’ll continue to try and manage with much less paper so that we can sustain these cost and time savings. We’ll continue to adjust our processes so that we can maintain the efficiency that comes from operating more digitally and in turn, maybe even help others realize similar benefits.
It would be a shame if our industry went back to the paper-heavy way we used to do business before. Frankly, that would be a poor business decision because for us, the positive impact on time and cost is enough of a business case to make this change permanent.