Going Green with Office

We’re surrounded by messages about being eco-friendly and chances are you do your bit at home. You probably recycle as much as you can, you may use non-toxic cleaning products and be as sustainable as you feel you can be.

But when it comes to working, it can feel more difficult to achieve the level of green-ness we’d like. There may be people around you who are cynical about green business – considering it a fad instead of a real, global problem.

Maybe the answer is: start small and do what you can to reuse, reduce and recycle. In this article we’re looking at ways Microsoft Office products can help you work smarter and greener.

The obvious place to start is with paper. Did you know that 115 billion sheets of paper a year are used for PC printers? (Source: ID2 communciations)

The simple solution is to print on both sides of the paper before it’s recycled. On some printers duplex printing is automatic; with others you may have to set it up manually. If your printers don’t support this function maybe it’s time to consider an upgrade! Find out how to duplex print in Word 2007.

As well as paper, it’s alarming how much ink you can use in daily work life. And there’s only so much shaking the ink cartridge will take before you really do have to replace it. Some enterprising Dutch designers have come up with ecofont – a new sans serif font which they claim uses up to 20% less ink. It’s free to download and use, so why not give it a go?

You may be saying at this point – this is all well and good, but I do have to print out documents to read them properly. It’s true that reading on screen can be slower and more difficult on the eyes. But if you’ve haven’t tried it yet, turn on Full Screen View in Word 2007. It optimises the full screen for reading; you can read your document as it would appear in printed format, and you can quickly jump to particular sections to edit as you go, highlighting and tracking changes. There’s also the advantage of being able to view the document as a piece, which can be more satisfying than shuffling handfuls of paper!

If you produce formal documents which have to be signed off, you can still save paper by using digital signatures in Office 2007 programs. Using computer cryptography, digital IDs ensure the document is authenticated and valid, and turn it into a read-only file once it’s been digitally signed.

Word and Excel 2007 allow you to insert actual signature lines in documents and workbooks which can be sent for digital sign-off. A macro project in Office 2007 can also be digitally signed for security purposes.

On the theme of reuse, do you find yourself recreating the same bits of content in your Word 2007 documents? Either you cut and paste from previous documents, or – horror of horrors – you actually re-key the same information time after time. With Word 2007 you don’t need to. Instead you can use building blocks – pieces of content that you designate, keep in a library and access each time you need them. Whether you use a piece of boilerplate text, a legal disclaimer or a standard opening paragraph, using building blocks will save you time and energy, and allow you to be more productive. Watch this demo and see how you can reuse your work and create great-looking documents.

When you’re working with a group of colleagues in different locations, it can be fun. It can also be messy and wasteful. Everyone has their own store of material for the project, stashed in their PC, and it can be a nightmare to keep track of who’s doing what, when and why. The answer to this confusion is Microsoft Office OneNote 2007.

Using a shared OneNote notebook you’ll literally all be on the same page. You can set up team members with one place where you can all go to review your project, maintain up to date information and work together wherever you are. As well as keeping documents, workbooks and email in your notebook, you can also store screen clippings, audio and video. OneNote keeps everything synched up, so there are no worries about overwriting or version control.

Read Michael Oldenburg’s article and find out why he calls OneNote the ‘Swiss army knife of the Microsoft Office family’!

One area where you may feel you just can’t cut down on resources is looking after your customers or partners. After all, they’re the reason you’re in business – right? Of course, but why not go one step further and create an exclusive, secure workspace where you can interact with them, give them your latest product or service information and even invite them to the pub? They’ll be able to access it whenever it suits them and you’ll be improving your reputation and building loyalty.

Microsoft Office Live Workspace Beta gives you the opportunity to create an online space for you and anyone your organisation works with to come and develop ideas, work together on projects and share information. You’ll be able to reduce mailings, and keep better track of what’s going on in the business. Best of all it’s FREE – and easy to implement. Have a look at why an Office Live Workspace could benefit you and your customers, and then set up your workspace.

If the cynics are still unconvinced, Hilary Bromberg says: ‘Sustainability is not a fad or a trend. It's a seismic cultural shift, and it's here to stay.’