Five ways to go green – and save money, too

By Diana Spurgus 

Whether your motivation is to save the planet or save some money, going green with your office IT is a smart move. After all, who doesn’t want to save a little money, especially when it’s so incredibly easy?
 
Go paperless
 
The concept of the paperless office was introduced years ago with the invention of document imaging. However, one look around your office surely will prove that was a bit of a pipedream. There are a lot of really smart reasons why you should consider converting some portion of your paper documents to electronic format in addition to the fact that going paperless is a much greener solution.
 
First off, finding documents will be so much easier and faster, and you won’t run the risk of important documents being misplaced, misfiled, or damaged (who hasn’t spilled coffee on a critical document). If that doesn’t grab you, maybe the cost savings on paper, ink, and storage will, or the fact that employees working remotely can access contracts or other paper documents in seconds, any time, day or night, from any location.
 
When not in use, turn off the juice
 
Computers are the largest drain on electricity in your office; and considering you’re only using them for approximately nine to 10 hours a day, that means you’re paying for 14 to 15 hours of unnecessary power. (And yes, it is a myth that regularly turning your computer off and on will cause it to wear out more quickly.) For our IT EZ support clients who have newer workstations, we are in the process of implementing automatically powering down the office overnight and bringing it back up again in the morning without any interruption or interference with their systems’ performance. This alone can save thousands of dollars on electricity. And if there is any maintenance to be done, we can take care of that remotely and power them down after we’re done.
 
Go virtual
 
Virtualization allows you to run multiple computers or servers on one super computer. Sometimes this is accomplished by replacing your complex, power-sucking, expensive workstations with much less expensive thin-client machines that require very little power or maintenance to operate.
 
Thousands of businesses are rapidly trading in their overblown, traditional networks for virtualization because of the incredible cost savings in hardware, software, and maintenance. Plus, it offers instant disaster recovery, the ability to securely work from home or the road, and it drastically reduces the amount of power needed, making it far more environmentally friendly.
 
Allow employees to work from home
 
More and more businesses are creating virtual workspaces for several reasons. First, allowing employees to work from home perpetually or for a couple of days a week cuts down on gasoline and emissions. It’s also a great retention strategy for your rock star employees. Additionally, allowing employees to work from home reduces the amount of office space needed, lowering or eliminating rent costs and utility bills. Finally, it’s a great disaster preparedness plan. In the event of a fire or natural disaster, employees can keep the doors open by working remotely.
 
Dispose of old electronics responsibly
 
Your computer is made with a wide variety of components, many of which are toxic. When old computers are disposed of improperly, these substances can enter the environment, causing pollution and associated plant and animal death, along with birth defects. Many of these components also are produced in unsustainable ways, causing even more environmental harm. Because these components can be recovered and recycled, throwing out an old computer is simply irresponsible. If you have old equipment, you can donate it to a charity for a tax break. Not only will that solve the disposal problem, but you’ll save a little money, too.
 
About the author:
Diana Spurgus, MBA, MCP, CITP CPA, is president of Lancaster, Ohio-based Business System Solutions Inc. (BSSI). BSSI can be reached at ask@bssi.biz.
 
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