Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Working Smarter: Eliminating Stationery Waste

I have always been interested in reducing waste, especially of stationery products. No, it's not because I'm a Green Nazi or a tree hugger (although I don't like waste of natural resources), it's more to do with reducing costs of operating a business. Unnecessary waste to me is obscene.

When I was an HR specialist responsible for recruitment within an Australian Government agency, my agency had 35 offices all over Australia and six which were my direct responsibility. Each office did its own staff selection and when new employees commenced, there was a stack of paperwork that had to be completed.

Before I arrived on the scene, administrative assistants in offices kept a quantity of hard printed forms in drawers and assembled them every time they had to process a new employee commencement. The problem with this system was that when a form changed, reams of old copies of the forms had to be discarded. Another problem was that admin staff often used an old form or didn't include all the forms. The system I found was full of waste and potential for errors.

I overcame this problem by creating an Adobe PDF file that included the 45 odd pages of forms including an employee contract form. I took on responsibility of keeping the PDF file accurate and up-to-date and distributed it to each office with information about how it was to be used.

My instructions were that it had to be printed on demand. No pre-printing and storage was allowed. When a form changed, I updated the file and re-issued it.

This step almost entirely eliminated errors and reduced waste. Every office in the country adopted it. Admin assistants would print on demand, have forms completed by job starters, fax the forms to our head office payroll staff and within hours the job was completed.

Printing on demand should be used for as much of a firm's paperwork as possible. How efficient is your firm at handling paper distribution? Write a comment and let us know.


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