Thinking about becoming paperless?
Paper has been the foundation for communication, productivity and creativity for a long time dating back to the creation from the papyrus plant in Ancient Egypt. It has carried information across generations but in current times, it has become more of a liability than an aid, not to mention it has become of the most energy-intensive of all manufacturing industries. Companies still use an incredible amount of paper, mostly for legal compliance and processes, but it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.
What is paperless?
The definition of a paper-free office is an environment where there is no or little use of paper because all documents, note taking and letters have been put into a digitalised form. An example is using WordPad instead of taking notes down directly on a piece of paper only to be thrown out as soon as the information is no longer needed.
In a 1975 Business Week article, there was a prediction that allowing employees to have a personal computer would dramatically reduce the amount of paper giving the idea of the futuristic paperless environment. Unfortunately, with easy access to photocopiers and printers, the worldwide use of paper more than doubled from 1980 to 2000 as it was much easier to print documents off in bulk to be given or stored.
Why do companies still use paper?
Human beings are creatures of habit and do not like change. If something works, why fix it? Paper has worked for thousands of years, so why should we change it now? Not very surprisingly, the average office worker uses about 10,000 pages a year meaning that paper is responsible for around 70% of office waste. In addition, a hybrid system has been in place for the last few decades. Paperwork is created on a computer, and saved there, but it is often sent out in hard copy. Why?
Some reasons include that paper is portable, universal, and a familiar way to share information. A typical scenario of paper wastage is when someone is holding a meeting and needs to share information to everyone without spending much time finding correct links or waiting for staff to be able to access emails. Instead, you quickly go to the office printer and scan a couple sheets to save hassle. But is that really easier?
Many people have also questioned ‘is it safe to go paperless?’ as workers feel more assured knowing there is a paper document with a handwritten signature that would hold in court if needed. This is now unnecessary as digital signatures are also allowed and much easier to securely store on the cloud
What are some of the benefits of becoming a paperless company?
While becoming paperless may feel a little daunting, it has real benefits for your company, that go far beyond a tidier office.
- Reduce costs – Paper and printing costs form a significant part of many organisations’ expenditure. Money spent on paper documents could be better used somewhere else.
- Improved workflow – Paper copies can be easily lost or misplaced, especially if there are piles of paper on every surface. When you go paperless, there will be no more losing or misplacing documents, faster approvals, easy access to name a few.
- Natural disaster risk reduced – No one can predict when a flood, fire, or any other form of natural disaster will take place and destroy your office and all its contents. When all your documents are on the cloud, it one less problem to worry about – they will be waiting for you when you next log on, no matter whether you have moved office in a hurry.
- Easy search – Less time wasted searching for documents when you can use search navigation and indexing.
- Better for the environment – Say goodbye to the paper mountain, and hello to trees. Sleep easy knowing that you are saving money and being eco-friendly at the same time!
- It is more secure – Control who has access to documents and know that they cannot be destroyed.
- Audit trails and legislative compliance – Know that all your documents are tracked and legitimate.
- Quick and on the go – No more packing and storing documents when you are busy and moving from place-to-place as everything can be accessed by your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop.
How can my company become paperless?
Before you start, it is important that you assess where majority of paper is being used. Is most of your paperwork, invoices, bills, airwaybills, regulatory paperwork etc.? This will give you a clearer understanding of the system you will need to put in place. Becoming paperless won’t happen overnight, but here are some simple steps to get you started:
- Get your employees involved – Some employees may be unsure of the new system as it may require new training, so it is important that you offer support and educational material to help explain why the processes are changing.
- Develop a strategy – There is nothing that sounds more chaotic than just stopping all paper usage altogether with no plan behind it. Choose some key areas within the company to start implementing the changes.
- Take your time – Don’t rush, it won’t happen overnight.
- Analyse the results – Take stock of how you are doing while you are underway. Don’t be afraid of changing plans to accommodate the situation on the ground. Once the process has started, measure the change because your success might help you discover new ways of improving elsewhere.
- Introduce a paperless document management solution – Whether that is internally designed or externally, you can have a system to do it all as you need it.
Changing your office set up can seem like a very daunting task but it is not impossible. We at Intelefile can help you achieve a simple transition in a matter of weeks. For more information about how you can become paperless – please contact [email protected].