Over the past few decades many people have been shouting about the imminent arrival of the paperless office. But even the explosion of new Internet technologies which allow users to share, read and edit documents, we are still clinging to the notion that businesses need paper to function. We believe that the paperless office is a myth, with businesses preferring a paper-light instead of paperless work environment.
What Is The Paperless Office?
The idea of the paperless office has been around for a long time, with the earliest recorded thoughts on it dating back to the Seventies with information scientist Frederick Lancaster. With the knowledge we have about producing paper and its impact on the environment it’s not surprising that many businesses want to be able to operate a completely paper free office, transferring everything into a digital formats. But in reality SME’s want a paper-light rather than paperless office solution, because print still plays a vital part in business. In fact, a survey from 2014 found that paper usage was on the increase in most firms, with ¾ of all invoices that arrived in PDF form being printed, and almost half of paper documents being scanned being created digitally.
The Technology Is Out There
One of the common myths of the paperless office is that the technology isn’t ready to support it yet. This is actually far from true. The components of the paperless office are all readily available and are actually fairly inexpensive. You can convert your physical paper into digital documents, and thanks to the creation of new apps and workflow tools you can almost eliminate the need for printing anything new. Almost. In fact, tools like digital signatures and encryptions have the power to revolutionise the way businesses operate on a fundamental level. The problem is, the adoption rate of these technologies is still very low, with trust in an all-digital office still not fully established. When it comes to signing a document, most people are still more comfortable signing a physical piece of paper with a pen than typing their name into a box on a computer. This might sound like a simple fix, but in reality the thing holding the paperless office back isn’t the technology; it’s the people.
Setting Up Systems
If you are truly dedicated to reducing the paper within your business, the key is to have a system in place. Transforming how you handle active documents across your business, how you store it and how you destroy it is all part of the process. Offer a solution that combines ease of access with the benefits of secure storage and management and you will see dramatic reductions in unnecessary printing. Part of that process is installing a secure storage unit for your ‘inactive’ documents to be stored in to await destruction. This removes the paper from the office creating a cleaner and more productive environment, as well as ensuring your documents are secure. Tackling information as it enters the business and establishing defined channels for how it is handled should be the next part of your process, along with instating firm print guidelines.
If you are looking into the paper-light office route but don’t know where to start, then you need to bring in a professional. Making the decision to change the way your office is run can be difficult, and it may unearth other issues within your office that you hadn’t even considered. For more information, get in touch with us today for your free consultation.