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Sustainability @ Work: Cutting Paper Consumption with Digital Workflows

Implementation of sustainability practices is an opportunity for organizations to think innovatively about their internal processes.

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Paper has been the literal canvas for business operations for decades. Now, we're living in an undeniably digital world and paper is being replaced by electronic documents faster than ever to enhance productivity. Simultaneously, there's a greater focus on sustainability as more companies are looking at the environmental impacts of all aspects of work—from daily commutes to home office energy use—in this new hybrid world of work.

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Organizations have an efficiency and moral interest in reducing paper consumption, and their employees are equally as concerned. The majority of employees believe paper consumption to be the largest contributor to their employer's environmental impact, according to an Adobe Sustainability @ Work study. Additionally, nine in 10 employees believe the adoption of digital documents and reducing or eliminating paper usage are important sustainability practices in the workplace.

There are a few ways organizations can reduce the environmental impact of their paper-based processes. Here are a few examples.

Automate manual, paper-based processes.
ITV, the largest commercial television network in the U.K., aims to be net zero for carbon emissions and zero waste by 2030. Meeting these sustainability goals has required ITV to automate tedious manual processes to save time and resources with Adobe Document Cloud digital documents and e-signatures, which helped more than 800 people across ITV's departments save 3.4 million pieces of paper a year. Not only did e-signatures reduce paper consumption, but it also helped ITV staff meet quick turn requests and stay productive despite production challenges and requirements.

"Every time people mention the importance of digital transformation at ITV, Adobe Sign is always brought up as a clear example of the benefits of going digital. The improvement to experiences, productivity, and sustainability is unmatched," says Wendy Cullis, a member of ITV's Green Team noted.

ITV is making progress toward its 2030 goals by empowering employees to get involved with groups like the Green Team and promoting eco-conscious behaviors across the organization—a strategy that is supported by employees.

Optimizing for the digital era.
Positive change can happen when business and technology work together improve employee and customer experiences—even if that requires rethinking current processes. Direct marketing company Valpak has always relied on physical mailers to reach local communities and promote small businesses. Yet, once Valpak turned to Acrobat Sign for its e-signature solution, it streamlined workflows for customers and sales representatives and reduced consumption of paper files.

Valpak averages around 3,000 contracts a month signed through Acrobat Sign, with strong adoption rates around 70 percent. The more than 600 active Acrobat Sign users company-wide save around 530 pages of paper daily by using e-signatures, which is equivalent to more than 14,000 gallons of water and 5,000 pounds of wood saved annually.

"Adobe Sign pulls all information for the contract directly from the Salesforce record, leading to more accurate contracts free of the typos and misprints that can occur in paper contracts," says Jessica Waldon, director of ITSS at Valpak.

Meeting sustainability goals with efficiency.
Vicinity Centres, one of Australia's leading retail real estate companies, accelerated its rotation of fresh merchandise concepts and media content for merchants and marketers to compete with e-commerce alternatives. This required the company to invest in digital tools that could scale across the more 60 shopping centers Vicinity manages in Australia to support operational procedures.

Vicinity selected Adobe Acrobat Sign to streamline its process for generating and signing contracts. "This was the first broad use of e-signatures in our organization," says David Harry, senior manager for core information systems at Vicinity Centres. "We've calculated that Adobe Acrobat Sign improves efficiencies by approximately 60 percent."

Vicinity was also thrilled about the environmental benefits of the digitized processes. "Reducing our paper and toner cartridge usage contributes to our broader focus on sustainability, which includes achieving Net Zero carbon emissions on wholly owned assets by 2030," according to Harry.

Setting future generations up for success.
California State University Fullerton set out make student services more convenient, maintain operations during the pandemic, and increase efficiency while going paperless. With the help of Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Sign, CSU Fullerton digitized administrative forms and processes and reduced paper usage by 50 percent.

"We are constantly looking for opportunities to automate processes across campus," says Ramesh Purohit, director of technical services at CSU Fullerton. "Adobe Sign is one tool we have used to accomplish this. When processes go digital, staff members no longer have to manually process and scan stacks of paper documents. Everything is electronic and in one central location."

Companies that make the switch from paper to digital accomplish productivity. They positively contribute to their sustainability initiatives and find new ways of working along the way. Seven in 10 employees see implementation of sustainability practices as opportunities for organizations to think innovatively about their internal processes.

Reducing the environmental impact of in-person, hybrid, or remote workspaces is ongoing, but according to employees, they're ready to make big changes.

Learn more about Adobe's commitment to sustainability here.

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