What is a Paperless Office?
Eliminate bottlenecks created by manual paper-based processes. Get started with Nanonets to automate document-based workflows and transform into a paperless office.
Any idea about how many sheets of paper you use every year at work? Any guesses? 500, 1,000, or 6,000? Well, studies say, an average office employee uses as many as 10,000 pieces of paper in a year. Yes, you heard it right. Here are some more startling stats:
- Companies in the US spend over $120 billion every year on paper-based copies. Most of these printed documents end up in the trash, a couple of months later.
- Employees spend around 30% to 40% of their time looking for various papers/documents in office cabinets & storage facilities.
- According to a study by the University of Colorado, the amount of paper thrown away every year is enough to construct a 12’ wall from New York to California.
- In the last decade, an average person in the US used the same amount of paper that six people used in Asia.
Sounds like such a waste. Right?
In a typical in-house office setting, some of the most paper-oriented departments include - accounts, HR (human resources), customer service, and facilities management, to name a few. These departments deal with volumes of printed documents, such as bills, work orders, receipts, resumes, invoices, and everything in between.
And it is pretty evident that paper-based documents tend to create various problems, such as security issues, lack of storage space & backup, lack of version history & audit trails. Paper-driven processes take a lot of time, preventing the workforce from giving their 100%. - Therefore, a paperless system is much-needed to address these issues.
Although the switch from paper-based to a paperless office system is not an overnight affair, it is worth considering because of the practical benefits of paperless offices.
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What do you mean by a paperless office?
A paperless office means what exactly it sounds like - free of paper. It is a concept that advocates minimal use of paper at workplaces and converting all paper-based documents into digital formats.
Some organizations choose to call it paper-light, which sounds logical. After all, you cannot eliminate using paper files completely at your office. There are various reasons why these are still relevant:
- Hackers could potentially access digital files that are not secured. However, they cannot access or download your paper-based documents that easily.
- Paper still offers one of the most convenient ways to write down ideas or take notes.
- Certain financial or legal requirements might need ink-based signatures to meet compliance standards.
A paperless office is an environmentally friendly concept that comes with many benefits, including increasing business productivity and employee efficiency while saving a lot of time and resources.
What are the benefits of going paperless?
Here are some of the top benefits of paperless offices:
It saves a significant amount of time.
One of the immediate perks of a paperless office is - you get to save a lot of time. In a paper-based facility, the employees spend a significant amount of time creating, organizing, and looking for documents.
However, digitized documents are easy to organize, retrieve, and share with little or no room for human error. And, when documents are easily accessible, it allows employees to be more efficient and focus on core business activities and optimize the workflow.
It ensures enhanced security.
Did you know that nearly 20% of the ‘to-be-printed’ documents are never actually retrieved from the printers? This may leave confidential data exposed to anyone (even unauthorized people) with access to the printer.
Electronic document management allows you to work in a restricted environment. You can put restrictions as to who can access the files and even who cannot. Additionally, it also protects you against potential security breaches.
Paper-light facilities make cost-cutting easy.
Going paper-free or paper-light allows you to save a lot of money that offices spend on file cabinets, paper shredders, printers, ink, and a whole lot of office supplies.
It makes compliance and auditing easy.
Auditing your business processes becomes easy when you are not buried under heaps of documents. Providing restricted digital access to just the required documents allows employees to focus on the task at hand. And, it also makes it convenient to meet audit/compliance requirements.
Most importantly, when your digital record is transparent with all documentation in place, you can easily comply with industry-specific regulations. So, no more hunting for important docs right before the review period.
It is a nature-friendly endeavor.
A paperless system leaves a near-zero paper footprint. It, in turn, reduces your impact on the environment.
How to dive into a paperless office system?
A digital document management workflow extracts and stores data electronically. It uses a single platform that comes with in-built search options. So, if you are planning to switch to a paperless office, here are some tips for you:
Start with finding out the right solution for you:
Make sure to pick the right digital document management platform to help you with your business requirements and challenges. It should be flexible enough to adjust to the regular changes in your business processes.
Kickstart with the process of digitization:
This process can put you through various challenges owing to the time and effort involved. Getting started with digitization mainly depends on the number of files you wish to begin with. It might feel a bit daunting and confusing in the beginning. However, with a reliable and customer-oriented digital document management service, you can work on the best practices to deal with the process of digitization.
Train your employees:
It is crucial to help your workforce understand the importance of going paperless and how an electronic document management system can help them boost their efficiency & productivity. A training program is the best way to coach your team around the idea of paperless platforms.
Use technology to minimize paper usage:
If services can be touchless, then why can't they be paperless? There is no dearth of online tools that let you do that. Let's find some!
- Say no to the piles of notebooks and make note-taking easy the digital way. Some of the best note-taking apps include - Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, Apple Notes, Notion, and Google Keep.
- Instead of letters, memos, and other printed copies, why not use WhatsApp, Skype for Business, Facebook Messenger, or Slack to communicate and stay connected in real-time?
Similarly, there are many other paperless systems and online tools for tons of official chores involving paper, such as invoicing, agreements, letters, and so on, that will make life much easier. So, why not reap the benefits of paperless office when the whole world is going gaga over it?
Minimizing the use of paper is one of the first steps of an organization aiming for digital transformation. It involves gradual acclimatization to the world of electronic documentation, where all paper-based files go digital.
However, going paperless is not an overnight phenomenon. It is a gradual process that will take time. However, with the right digital tools and team effort, the dream of paper-light or paperless offices will come true, and you will be able to leverage the benefits of paperless offices. All you need to do is get started. When digital transformation is done right, you can ensure a smooth and efficient workflow at your workplace.