The impact of climate change is just too serious to ignore, and businesses around the world aren’t trying. With another year of freak weather and natural disasters, catastrophic heatwaves and floods, the evidence is all too clear. With new warnings from climate scientists and the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties( COP26 Conference) just around the corner, the need for change is in sharper focus than it’s ever been.

Businesses are working harder around sustainability and eco concerns not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes sense. Becoming more sustainable goes hand-in-hand with driving down costs, not to mention retaining customers. A 2019 Nielsen study found that 73% of global consumers were willing to change their buying habits in order to reduce their environmental impact. Research has also shown that companies with higher environmental, social and governance (ESG) ratings outperform those without.

Going green also helps businesses to recruit and retain employees. Millennials will comprise three quarters of the workforce by 2025, and Deloitte’s Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z survey places climate change as their number-three greatest personal concern, and the number one for Generation Z. What’s more, 44% of millennials and 49% of Gen Zs reported that they had made choices about the organizations that they work for based on their personal ethics.

When businesses look at how they can become more sustainable, going paperless is an obvious first step. The World Wildlife fund states that the production of pulp, paper and packaging results in approximately 13 to 15 percent of total global wood consumption, making it a contributor to the 43 million hectares of forest lost to deforestation just between 2004 and 2017. And while more and more paper is being made using recycled fibers – up to 70% in the UK – the environmental impact of paper doesn’t stop there. The WWF places the sector as the fourth-largest industry when it comes to energy consumption, and a major contributor to water usage.

Reducing our reliance on paper

Replacing paper-based processes with digital processes can help businesses reduce their paper usage, while also cutting the energy used in printing. And while doing so, can help organizations speed up their time to business, reduce the time and effort spent in circulating and signing documents, and even cut some of their postal expenses. Recent research from IDG and Adobe has also shown that businesses that had gone further in embracing digital document and signing workflows were better equipped to continue working, with less disruption to key business processes, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Yet the same research shows that while many organizations have made cost and efficiency savings by going paperless, the work is far from complete. The overwhelming majority of organizations still have manual or paper-based steps involved in some business tasks, even though more than half of those surveyed said that the impact of these processes left customers frustrated.

Put this and the environmental impact of paper together, and it’s crucial that businesses maintain the momentum away from paper-based processes and towards more efficient and sustainable digital workflows. This is where Adobe Sign can help.

To find out more, contact Adobe and read the whitepaper on the state of the paperless office.