Welcome to day 16 of Blogmas! In today’s post we’ll be looking at the benefits of and some of the ways in which you could consider taking governance in your setting either partly or fully paper-free. As we all know, the elephant in the room (ahem Covid), has stepped up our use of technology for everything from online meetings to cloud-based filing and even virtual Ofsted visits! Chances are you’re already using some kind of online platform to share information and connect with governors/trustees, but just how far are you willing to take this endeavour into the online world? Or are you looking forward to cracking open those hardback files, dusting off the printer and setting up your label maker?
I am definitely a self-proclaimed stationery lover (and even run my own planner business and have plans to produce an annual planner specifically for Clerks…. see the Blogmas Day 9 post here) and there’s nothing like taking pen to paper to have a good old brain dump and organise. However, I can also appreciate the benefits of running an online office.
Using less paper is obviously good for the environment plus less travel with virtual meetings has huge benefits to our carbon footprint. But did you also know that reducing the amount of paper clutter in your workspace (and home) can have huge mental health benefits and reduce stress? Ok, so I know that technology is great when it works and when it doesn’t…..well we’ve all been there but if going fully or partly paper-free is one of your goals for 2022 (it’s definitely one of mine!) let’s look at some practical ways you can reduce the paper clutter in your workspace:
- Invoices and contracts
If you are a freelance Clerk you can use an online platform (such as QuickBooks) to process and store your payments and invoices. From scanning and electronically filing receipts to completing your tax return online there really isn’t any need to print out a single page. HMRC notifications can also be sent via email so all your tax statements and reminders remain online. Client contracts can also be sent via email and signed electronically using sites such as Docusign.
- Electronic diary and planning
Chances are you are already using Outlook (or equivalent) to plan and invite attendees to online meetings; however, have you considered using your electronic diary to plan out your entire day? Or to add deadlines for minutes or sending papers out or reminders for actions to which governors can be invited to? Or what about policy management? There are also some really great (and mostly free) online project management tools (such as Trello, Asana (my personal favourite) or Microsoft Planner) which can be used to plan tasks, workloads or even repetitive checklists such as a pre and post meeting planner.
- File storage and notes
You may already use online file storage spaces such as OneDrive and/or SharePoint but have you ever considered taking and filing notes online? From typing directly into an online Word document to taking quick notes in your IOS Notes app there are loads of great options for taking notes online. Or if you love a bit of tech and have an Apple Pencil (or equivalent) you can use an app such as Noteshelf to physically handwrite notes which can then be converted and stored as PDF documents or some apps even allow you to transfer your handwritten notes to text! Then of course there’s the more “traditional” scan and save approach for any loose paperwork lying around!
- Travel and parking expenses
If there is a need for you to travel and you get reimbursed for either mileage or parking you can use a mileage tracker app and most car parks now enable you to pay via an app which then produces an electronic receipt for you to submit with your expenses claim – no more worrying about lost pay and display tickets!
- Online governance platform
Of course, an absolutely ideal way to manage all your governance needs is to invest in an online platform specifically designed for governance. The Governors Virtual Office (GVO) provides a secure location to keep your governors’ information available online at all times, to help governors become more engaged with the school and its governance. Enabling governors to arrive at meetings fully informed and creating time to spend on focused debate of strategic issues means that GVO can be a great aid to the effectiveness and efficiency of governance.
I hope you found today’s Blogmas post useful. Come back or subscribe to receive the next post of the Blogmas 2021 series directly to your inbox.
Day 17: Blogmas 2021 overview