The Paperless Office: Really?
Mon Oct 16, 2017 | Lasers Resource
The Paperless Office. It’s been “on the way” for at least 25 years.
Yet paper is still here. Everywhere. In briefcases (“for review”), on desks, in copier and printer output trays, and especially in those ubiquitous blue or green recycle bins (next to our desks, copiers, and printers!) It’s still pervasive in the majority of processes we use in business.
So, what happened? There’s no question that paper is critically important. Right? Can we all just admit it? Despite that, we can move to a more “paper-light” environment. Seriously, we can.
While it’s true that with almost five generations in today’s workforce, there is a large segment of people who have spent their entire careers interfacing with paper communication, and there’s no simple way to break away. Paper is familiar, and it works, even with advanced electronic alternatives.
Besides, almost universally, paper is effective. It’s portable. It’s easy to read, particularly in comparison to consuming information from a cell phone, laptop or desktop computer screen. It’s tactile and comfortable. Holding paper just feels better than holding a device. And with an explosion in usable content, it absolutely makes its way onto paper.
So, it’s just not surprising that we haven’t yet achieved the paperless office.
Is the idea of paperless or even paper-light dead? Can we just move on? What about all of the trees being destroyed? What about sensitive documents being left on output trays, shuffled to recycle bins and the possible security and compliance risks? Studies show that 65% of office documents that are printed are just thrown away, almost immediately. Sound familiar? Let’s not even talk about legal files, Protected Health Information, HR and other documents that are put in boxes and sent to offsite storage…for a sizable fee, just to store the paper. Clearly, there’s room to improve.
Here are four simple things you can do now to bring about the change:
1. Consider electronic file scan and storage. There are many great software solutions that will help with this. Add up what you spend on waste and storage and you’ll quickly identify how much these solutions can save your organization. It’s a lot more than you think.
2. Employ secure release printing. What is that? Simply put, everyone in the organization can print to a central “internal cloud” and then go to any printer in the organization, and by inputting their ID number or just swiping their ID badge or door card, release only the prints they want or need. Boom - no more waste. Boom - all print jobs are secure. And no more “I NEED my own printer” conversations. Talk about saving money…
3. Look at your business processes. A good example is Accounts Receivable. You can easily streamline this process (eliminating the duplicate tasks of creating paper shipping documents, sending them out, receiving them back and creating even MORE paper documents via data entry…just to store the records). Implement a better system and at the same time, eliminate all paper. Just require electronic shipping docs, electronic invoicing, and electronic payments. Your computer does what it’s supposed to. This is far easier to implement than you might guess. Then there’s HR (same kind of simplification). Electronic HR documents make everyone’s life easier, especially when you consider that you can unlock an entirely new set of HR capabilities to manage information and identify talent. Look at all of your business processes. Engage your Document Management Partner to help you. You don’t have a Doc Management Partner? They don’t get what you’re saying? Time to look for someone better.
4. For the paper you DO consume, plant trees! Studies reveal that around 8,333 letter-sized pages equals a tree. How many trees are you destroying? How many are your planting? There’s a great software program that helps track this and will automatically reforest on your behalf. Again, your Doc Management Partner should have the information; if they don’t, find one who does. This is a no-brainer and literally almost free. Think of how you can brag about this on social media! (For a free whitepaper on this, email me here).
If you love paper, don’t worry. Yes, its usage will decline and it will ultimately be replaced in many business processes. That’s just appropriate, and easy, as outlined above. But there is no doubt about the fact that paper is here to stay. But, like everything else in our advancing technological world, better ways are here. Embrace them!
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