Art of Cloud is a totally paperless office.

Yep, that’s right. Paperless.

Well, not including the post-it notes, but we can’t all be perfect, right?

Why did we decide to be a paperless business?

Coding with Coffee

There were a ton of reasons that, on starting up a business, we decided to go paperless. We’re a tech company, we spent our time building digital solutions and processes that negate the need for faffy paperwork, we hated clutter and, most importantly, we could not be bothered to change printer ink.

Kidding, though the printer ink thing was certainly part of it.

Our main reason for being paperless is that, although recycling exists, the UK isn’t really very good at it, at all.

We thought, why end up with mounds of paperwork, locked cabinets, and the rest, when we could comfortably communicate in the digital world and save ourselves (and the recycling depots in Leeds) a load of inevitable paper waste?

So, what digital tools do we use instead of paper?

All offices have a different set-up, and it just so happens that the Art of Cloud office is very old-school whiteboard friendly. 

Apart from the occasional post-it note, we communicate ideas, strategy, and tasks on our huge whiteboards dotted around the room, as we know that sometimes you just have to draw or write something out by hand. 

Digital organisation and communication tools are also at the core of how we operate seamlessly: Google Docs plays a huge role on how we share our training and strategy resources and documents, Lucidchart is used for diagram creation, Salesforce’s Quip is used for team collaboration.

Accounting and expenses are easily managed using Xero (who wouldn’t want the ability to scan your receipts just in case they go walkabouts before tax season), and when we want to scribble on a document there’s the digital annotation tools to do that (if you’re on a Mac, just use preview!). 

Salesforce does just about everything else

Of course, most of everything we do is using tools based in Salesforce!

It's actually easier to be paperless

And that makes the decision to be paperless easier for us.

Why worry about loose papers, lost documents, locking cabinets of sensitive data, and mess, when everything digital can be so seamlessly integrated into our team workflow?

Sustainability beyond the office walls

As our office is found in a shared office building, there’s not much we can do when it comes to the source and suppliers of our lighting and energy (but you can bet that when we have our own place, we’ll be excitedly getting those solar panels installed!), but that doesn’t mean we stop at being paperless.

It’s the small things in the office that cannonball and eventually become commonplace, making a big difference:

We’re big fans of commuting on the train –with our e-tickets- most days as the traffic is terrible anyway, and we’re regulars at taking our reusable cups around the corner to Taste to grab our morning coffees.

What are other Leeds businesses doing when it comes to sustainability?

We reached out to some Leeds businesses to ask them if sustainability was at the forefront of their minds. The response? Very positive!

Taste, our local coffee and lunch spot, have been trying to reduce single use items, and currently offer 20p discount on coffees and takeaway lunch items for people that bring their own cups or Tupperware containers! Their long term plan is to one remove all single use items and encourage people to bring their own Tupperware from home of have some we can sell/ loan to customers. 

“In addition I got rid of all plastic bottles when I took over the business, so we no longer sell water or other plastic drinks bottles; we are a refill station which means people can fill up their water bottles at the cafe if they need to. We have a refill sticker in the window.”

As regular users of Taste, we definitely support their long-term plan of removing all single use items! Imagine if all the businesses at Round Foundry supported it, too? 

One employee of Kirkstall Forge, Dan, told us that his office encourages car-sharing as a way to commute to work. Because, let’s face it, the roads are congested enough, and we are all underestimating the affects of car pollution in growing cities like Leeds! 

Lister and Bruce, a new small business specialising in organic nightwear, talked to us about their 100% organic materials, with 60% of their printed material being recycled, as well as their emphasis on relying on digital collaboration and communication tools rather than driving too and from meetings! 

And it's not just small businesses, it's freelancers too.

In the age of the freelancer, a reliance digital tools are basically a must. As flexible working and freelancing grows, the more we need to adapt to a digitally focused way of communicating.

Leeds-based photographer and writer, Rachel, swears on whiteboards for her to-do lists and Shootproof for her contracts, invoicing, and gallery uploads, as it takes the paper out of paperwork and ties all aspects of her business into one place! 

Essie, from Sincerely Essie, an online magazine and community for women, is also completely paperless and has totally kitted out her home office in charity shop and second-hand furniture! Google Docs is also a favourite for her when it comes to collaboration with other writers and creators. 

Is sustainable office practice a millennial trend?

Easy question, really. It makes sense that this is seen as a ‘millennial’ trend; being more digitally oriented and paperless is a modern trend. New start-ups are of course more likely to use digital tools over paper-based organisation because it’s easier, faster, more collaborative over long-distances.

Larger, more established businesses might be slower on the uptake due to the huge effort it might take to transition an entire business to being (almost) paperless and more reliant on digital tech. It, basically, takes time. But isn’t impossible.

Want to find out the other ways tools like Salesforce help us out as a tech startup?