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Opportunities to work GREEN and save money

PowerFrameworks has made a commitment to operate as Green as possible. During some of our brainstorming sessions, we developed a few best practices that we believe are helping reduce the consumption of paper goods and, and the same time, reduce our cost of operations. We are happy to share with you some ideas to consider for your own workplace.

Incoming faxes

PowerFrameworks is a virtual company, so we needed a method of receiving and distributing faxes in a meaningful way. The fax services – and there are several reliable options out there – receive the fax and email it to up to five email addresses as a .tif. This solved our distribution problem, but each recipient would then have to print the fax out, which is costly in terms of printer ink and paper stock. To get around this, we installed a second monitor to each computer and view the email .tifs onscreen instead of on paper. Companies that are not virtual should realize the benefits associated with this method, as well.

If email distribution is not an issue with you or your company but you'd still like to go Greener, many printers digitize the faxes before printing. You can "print" the faxes to PDF documents and view those PDF documents onscreen instead of on paper. Savings: expensive printer ink, paper stock, time delivering hard-copy faxes.

It's true that you will still have the cost of your fax line to receive the faxes and/or the cost of the fax service, but you can take steps to reduce the number of faxes you receive by requesting those with whom you do business often consider "printing" their scanned or electronic documents to PDF documents and send them to you via email. It's easier to monitor the completeness of a scanned document than it is a faxed document. If pages are missing, you know before you send it out, which saves time in the long run. Fax services usually base their rates on numbers of fax pages, which will enable you to choose a small-volume fax service option.

Outgoing faxes

There are a couple of approaches available to you, but we believe the best to be a combination of the two.

  1. There are times when signed hard-copy pages need to be faxed. Since many offices are equipped with all-in-one printers, it is easy to scan a signed hard-copy document and save it as a PDF or other electronic format, which can be sent via email instead of fax, Postal Service mail, or delivery services. Savings: delivery fees, paper stock, printer ink.
  2. Edits to documents are typically hand written on hard copies of documents. A great alternative is installing a tablet with a writing stylus on your computer. You can digitally sign documents, mark up drafts, highlight and eliminate sections of text easily. Do some research to make sure you make a suitable purchase that will work with your workstation. Savings: paper stock; printer ink, time saved putting the document through the fax machine, possible cost of long-distance phone charges.

There are also a number of fax/printers on the market that include the option to print your document as a fax, how this would operate varies from printer to printer though.

Adobe Acrobat users can create a digital signature within Acrobat. This is a good method, but can be confusing to the average user. For more information: http://www.acrobatusers.com/tutorials/digital-signatures-pdf-acrobat. This method does not require a tablet. Though you can add a graphic of your signature to the Acrobat signature that you create.

If you are a Mac OS X user, you can can print directly to PDF (or fax if your computer is attached to a phone line) from any program - it will be a print option. This also comes up as an option if you have Adobe Acrobat (full NOT the free reader) installed on PC or Mac, however this is not a standard option for all PC users. There are a number of options out there including a free open source one named PDFCreator that can be downloaded here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/

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There are It's true that there are expenses associated with purchasing a second monitor and tablet/stylus, but the savings will pay for them shortly. Printer ink has become ridiculously expensive, paper is costly, it takes time distributing and processing hard copies of faxes and documents, and it takes time and effort to recycle used paper. But beside the ultimate cost savings, the reduction in office consumable goods is a good Green decision for any company. Let us know if you have any Green office practices that you'd like to share.

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