The paperless office is increasingly becoming a reality but there are still many practices that are dominated by paper. Even today it’s still very common to turn up to a meeting and receive a stack of handouts such as the agenda, presentation notes or product details. The same thing happens whenever you attend an event, conference or training course. Course notes and learning materials are often printed and distributed in bulk. Legal and financial matters require signed and printed contracts, and outsourced marketers present printed proposals for you to review and provide feedback on. We’ve dug out 5 simple but incredibly handy apps that could change the way you approach these situations in your office.
While these apps are all handy at the individual level, they can be positively game changing if rolled out office-wide with management support.
Take meeting notes on your phone
If you’re still taking pen and paper to meetings, it might be time to look at digital note taking. Evernote is a fully featured note taking app that frees you from pen and paper for ever. Instead of flicking through pages of notes to find the costings you jotted down last week, you can use Evernote’s handy search function to find it in seconds. Notes are accessible from all your devices, so you never have to worry about leaving them at home. Create task lists for you and your team and share them with others for instant collaboration. For less than $5 a month you can also access your notes offline and integrate Evernote with your emails. For a few more dollars a month you get a whole stack of extra features like document and business card scanning, PDF search and customer service.
Leave handouts and course materials on the table
Next time you find a stack of pages on the table in front of you, show the event organisers how it’s done and scan them into your phone instead. CamScanner lets you instantly capture printed pages using your phone’s camera. You can scan text as well as images and even search for text in captured files. It takes seconds to scan a page, so in minutes you could scan all the handouts at an event and share them with the whole team back in the office. CamScanner removes the need to organize and file printed materials and gives you a permanent record of the event. You could even offer to email them to everyone else in the room - maybe the organisers will take the hint and cut down on paper next time. ;-)
Never print another contract again
Just when you thought everything in your life was digital, along comes an email with a contract that you’re supposed to sign and return. So you print, sign on the dotted line, scan it in again and email it back. And if you don’t have a scanner you’ll need to find a stamp, an envelope and walk that contract down to the post box. That is, until you download Docusign. Docusign is one of many apps on the market that lets you scan and sign a printed or digital contract. Once you’ve created your signature it’s simply a matter of using your phone camera to capture the page, popping that signature in and hitting send. No more wasting paper or your precious time.
An app to review visual designs
It’s common to receive printouts of visual designs or proposals when you engage a designer, agency or marketing team. Next time, why not ask them to use Skitch instead? The materials you need to review can be scanned or uploaded to Skitch and shared with the team. Then everyone can review and comment, and keep a permanent record of the discussion. Skitch lets you draw and sketch on the document, circle elements and add notes, arrows and comments for everyone to see. Apart from simplifying the review process for remote workers, using an app like Skitch means no more printouts and more effective collaboration.
Design your own meetings app
Instead of printing multiple copies of the agenda, a monthly sales update or the team’s WIP every time you book a meeting room, you could use an app platform like Appsheet to create a meetings app that everyone can access? All you need to do is create a simple spreadsheet including everything you’ll need at the meeting. Link to documents, type notes or scan images and paste them in. You can then use Appsheet to convert this spreadsheet to an app that everyone can access and update on the fly. Instead of arriving with piles of paper, everyone just turns up and opens the app. You could include a link to this week’s agenda, add in the latest sales figures or screen grab a chart from the customer satisfaction report. Use CamScanner to capture whiteboard notes from last week’s meeting and drop them in too. Attendees can even update the app with discussion notes or apologies and you can all add tasks and actions on the go.