Going Paperless In The Office
Many businesses are overwhelmed with paperwork. With too much paperwork a business will lose its efficiency and productivity will also go down. The reduced efficiency and loss in productivity cost the business money. Want to know how to set up a paperless office? Let’s take a look at what you can do to reach your goal of going paperless in the office.
Less Paper Means Better Business
As we mentioned before, too much paper costs a company money. Therefore, less paper means a better business! It seems simple, but the amount of paperwork often isn’t taken into consideration when productivity goes down. Paperwork needs to be moved, transported, and stored in some way. That takes time and resources away from everyday tasks. Analysts have been saying that the paperless office is coming for over two decades now. But, many offices are still struggling with too much paperwork.
Digitizing the paperwork not only reduces the overall cost of paperwork, but it also makes storing and searching the information much easier. We’ll go over the benefits of turning your documents into digital files and how the reduction in paperwork will ultimately help your business run more efficiently.
Why Is Paperwork Still Used?
Before telling you all of the benefits of a paperless office, let's try to get a better understanding as to why paper is still such a common factor in the office today. Businesses use paper today because:
- Requirements by the government – Sometimes the government will tell you to keep a certain document for a certain amount of time. However, the government is slowly realizing that digital documents work just as well.
- Legal Requirements – Although this is actually starting to die out, paperwork that requires a signature is often printed out on paper. More and more we are seeing digital signatures for most signature requirements.
- Permanence and convenience – Digital files from 20 years ago cannot be read today. However, our Constitution was written on paper and can still be read after all this time. Luckily, storage methods for digital files have been standardized so that digital documents will be able to last.
- The Feel – Many people prefer the feel of paper compared to a digital file. This is, of course, a generational thing as those who have grown up in technology feel more comfortable with digital files than paper.
- Cost – Taken at face value, paper is cheap and easy to send or move around. But when you truly look into the cost of that paper and how much money goes into printing the information on that paper you’ll soon realize that the cost is much higher. Printers, ink, printer maintenance, it all adds up.
When you look at the reasons why paper is still so prevalent in business offices today we find that it is more of a historical and personal issue, not a logical one.
Benefits Of A Paperless Office
At first glance, you may not think going paperless has many benefits, but you would definitely be wrong. Here is what a company can gain when they start cutting back on the amount of paperwork in their office:
- Less Clutter – Paper everywhere. On the desk, on the shelves, in banker boxes on the desk, and on the shelves. Clutter. It takes up space and is unsightly. Digital files cannot be seen unless through a screen. The reduction in clutter helps employees focus on the business.
- Easy Access To Information – A business, with their information made digital, can access this information from anywhere in the world. There is no need to file a request to pull paper that is filed away. A simple digital query can retrieve the information in a matter of minutes, even seconds. An example of this is accounting software. Taking advantage of accounting software, the business can store, retrieve, index, and search the accounting information in a fraction of the time it takes for paper records.
- Increased Collaboration – When paperwork is digitized, the information can be shared with anyone. This increases the ability to have others add their input to enable quicker decisions that will benefit the company as a whole.
- More Efficient Disaster Recovery – A business with a lot of paperwork runs the risk of losing that paperwork either by a filing error or a major disaster such as a fire or natural disaster. Paperless business systems typically include a backup which can be used to recover any lost data.
- Cost Reduction – Less printing saves the company on ink, toner, postage, paper, and any other costs associated with paperwork. Ultimately, a business could end up paying less in real estate because they wouldn’t need as big of an office to store their paperwork.
- Flexibility – Flexibility is one of the benefits of paperless offices many do not consider. With your data and information online moving to a new office is much easier and cost effective. With the data stored digitally, it even makes it easier to offer your employees flexibility on where they choose to work.
Steps To A Paperless Office
If you’re ready, let’s take a look at how to set up a paperless office so that you can begin saving money and making the most out of the technology that is available.
- Evaluate – Document what you are printing now. This is easiest done with print audit software.
- Calculate – Determine how much you are spending on print related expenses. This includes printers, ink, toner paper, and service contracts as well as storage and tech support.
- Move – Begin moving to online, cloud-based applications. These applications allow you to easily share your information with employees, clients, and suppliers. Examples of cloud-based applications include: Google Docs, dropbox, Asana, Evernote, Paypal, and Venmo.
- Training – Devise a training program so that you and all of your employees are aware of the new software and why the company has decided to move in that direction.
- Reward – Create a printing budget for your employees and reward them when they are sticking to the budget.
- Scan – When you receive paperwork from outside of the company, immediately scan it and store it in PDF format. If it is an accounting piece of paperwork, most accounting software has a way to capture an image of the paperwork and automatically pulls it into the software directly.
- Sign Digitally – Digital signatures are now allowed in many countries. Make use of them and save a ton of paper!
- Online Banking – Sign up for paperless statements from all of your financial institutions.
Paperless Businesses Are The Future
Once you learn how to set up a paperless office, the future of your business seems to open up. Depending on your budget and time commitment, the process can be done in a rather short amount of time or over an extended period of time. However, once the decision is made and the process of going paperless has started, you begin to feel like there is a light at the end of the crowded, filing cabinet hallway.