Technology has made it easier for individuals and businesses to “go paperless”. In fact, many businesses will offer a discount for their services if their customers opt to go paperless with their accounts. Yet, what does it actually mean for a company to go completely paperless?
The notion of a paperless office is not a new one. In 1975, a prediction about businesses going paperless was made in a Business Weekly article. The idea was simple in theory: Eliminate the need to use paper, thereby saving time and money. A paperless office does just that; eliminates or reduces the use and need of paper by replacing documents and procedures with digital copies, programs, and software.
Benefits of going paperless
- Saves money. This is perhaps one of the biggest advantages to going paperless. Hundreds and thousands of dollars are spent annually on paper products. Also to be taken into account, is also the sizable cost of storing and archiving paper in folders, cabinets, boxes, safes, and even storage units.
- Saves time. Having everything in digital format usually means the information is easier to find, as long as it is properly transferred. Going paperless also provides employees with more time for other tasks, possible even increasing productivity.
- Convenience. When information is digitized, employees, managers, and business leaders can access necessary materials without having to actually be in the office, or even in the same state as the business location. Rather than calling the office and asking their assistant or colleague to look up information from a specific file, the individual can retrieve the documentation on their own.
- Security. Digital files are actually more secure than some may think. A good security system will include encrypted files and other measures to insure the safety of the material. Unlike paper data which can get lost, faded, or burned, digital data is much more secure.
Challenges of going paperless
While there are numerous benefits to achieving a paperless business, there are definitely some challenges as well. One of the most significant tests is the actual process of converting important documents from paper to digital. In addition to the time it takes, there is also the need for implementation and following the appropriate security measures to keep files safe and confidential.
It is a noticeable change for a company to begin transferring to a paperless format; in other words, a certain amount of employee training will be necessary. Not only must workers be trained on how to move, store, and access the data, they will also need to learn safety protocols to keep the information from easily being hacked into.
The transition will require a shift in business protocol, and there will likely be some confusion, or at least a learning curve, as documents continue to enter the office, and staff learns to adapt to new procedures.
Ways to reduce paper use in the office
Of course, going 100 percent paperless is not feasible for some businesses, but there are still plenty of ways to reduce the overall amount of paper being used in a company. The first task should be to set up a recycling system so that all of the paper being saved can be recycled.
Here are a few more tips to help reduce the daily use of paper in your office.
- E-mail when possible. Electronic messaging in any form is a good way to communicate with other businesses, employees and customers. Many companies today still print out their newsletters and pamphlets, when much of the time these can be created digitally, and emailed instead.
- Cut back on printing. It’s easy to simply hit the print button to obtain a paper copy of whatever you are currently viewing, yet, quite often, it is not necessary to create the extra hard copy. However, if must print a large document, consider only printing the pages you need, rather than the entire manuscript, if the situation allows.
- Use the space. There are two blank sides on a sheet of paper, why not use both sides? This will cut the paperwork in half and also save in storage areas.
Important Reminder: Companies should be sure to create a shared computer drive. Going paperless means there will be less paper files available to employees in central file cabinets within the office. While reducing this extra bulk is a good thing, workers will still need quick access to the same files and documents they have in the past. Therefore, creating a shared drive on the office computer system, which contains scanned and digital copies of this documentation, will ensure that workers can continue to work efficiently.
Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200