Creating a paperless office was first theorized in 1975, in a Business Week article by a man called Vincent E. Giuliano.
The term “paperless office” is still going around but the need for organizations to make the switch is becoming more and more obvious.
While picking up a piece of paper to scribble a simple note or reminder seems trivial and obvious, the positive effects of limiting the use of paper in offices or eliminating it together are enormous.
That is why we have created this article to show you what it would be like to transition into a paperless office and how you can do it.
What is a Paperless Office System?
Before we go on to discuss why you should consider going paperless and the ways in which you can convert your current office and organizational environment into one which is considered paperless, it is important to understand what is considered a paperless office.
A paper-free office is a concept or the act of minimizing or ideally completely eliminating the use of paper in an office environment.
Basically, this is achieved by reducing the dependency on paper documents and converting them into digital form instead.
There are many advantages to adopting this paper-free office the most obvious of which is the positive impact it would have on the environment. It has also been seen to boost productivity, and efficiency, and save money.
We will discuss some of the benefits of a paper-free office in detail below.
Why do businesses still use paper?
The primary reason why organizations are still reluctant to paperless systems is familiarity. Employees will be at ease with their tasks and duties if a company continues to rely on printed copies. Furthermore, there is no need for training sessions or seminars to learn how to utilize a new product or software.
Some other reasons include:
- Paper is cost-effective
- Paper records may be kept and read for an extended length of time. Contrary, computer records may become inaccessible after a set period of time owing to technological advancements
- The paper does not require a power source or network connectivity, so employees can continue to work regardless of the situation
- With paper, digital security threats are almost nil, and organizations may be certain that important data is secure as long as employees adhere to best practices.
- The simplicity of paper procedures cannot be achieved in a paperless environment and in a workplace brimming with complex technology, using hard copies is a welcome return to form in terms of convenience
Advantages of a Paperless Office
If you decide to make the switch and transition to make your office paperless there are many things that you, your team, your organization, and the environment can gain from your efforts.
There are multiple benefits to going paperless for your business both internally and externally.
Here are some of the most standout advantages of transitioning to minimize your organization’s reliance on paper and making a paperless office.
1. Benefits to the Environment
One of the most prominent reasons why organizations want to go paperless is because it is good for the environment.
The manufacturing of paper products is known to have disastrous effects on the environment including the production of greenhouse gases, global warming, and causing deforestation.
While recycling is a way to combat some of these effects the ratio of manufacturing and paper demand in comparison to how much is being recycled barely scratches the surface of what is needed to help our environment recover.
In fact, not only is the ratio too great, much of the paper used in offices winds up in landfills anyway.
Moreover, not only is it the manufacturing of paper products that is harmful to the environment.
The ink and toner used in printers and other such machines are also damaging.
By reducing the use of paper and switching to paperless offices, these impacts can greatly be reduced.
2. Customer Reactions
With the effects of human negligence on the status of the Earth that we live in, many individuals are now trying to be more conscious as to who they are interacting with and buying services or products from.
Promoting that you are doing your part as an organization to become paperless is a great way to improve customer loyalty and gain new customers.
People now want to buy from organizations that are more ethical.
If you and a rival company are offering the same product or service to its customers but you are showing your customers that you are taking steps to do the right thing for the environment there is a greater chance of individuals choosing you.
3. You Can Save Money
Another benefit of going paperless is the money that you will save.
By reducing or eliminating the need for paper in your office you will not only save money on having to buy reams of paper but also on other paper-system-based products like printers, ink for those printers, pens, etc.
Apart from direct costs, there are also other costs you will be saving. For example, office space and filing systems that you will have to purchase to organize the papers and documents.
Paperless systems are also more efficient, being able to process a larger amount of paperwork. There is also the employee time that you save which in turn allows you to save money.
4. You Can Save Space
We touched upon this briefly, but paper takes up a lot of space, and going paperless will allow you to save space.
You will need things such as filing cabinets, and then office space to be able to house those filing cabinets and systems.
Alternatively, going paperless means using digital files and documents that allow you to store documents and other information on on-premise servers or on the cloud. This saves a tone of physical space.
5. You Can Save Time
Another benefit of going paperless is the time you could save that can then be used on more productive tasks.
Filing, storing, organizing, and then searching for documents take up a lot of valuable time that could otherwise be better utilized.
When going paperless you are investing in digitalizing documents that do not require physical organization. It also has powerful search capabilities that allow you and your team to easily find documents and information that they need.
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6. Easy Transfer of Information
When you transfer paper documents into digital documents it simplifies the means by which you can transfer and share information.
If you are using a cloud to upload data and documents this can be accessed from anywhere where individuals are given permission. You therefore no longer need to be in the physical presence of the information you are seeking.
7. Ensures the Security of Data
Paper documents are at a higher risk of vulnerability. They can get misfiled, get lost, or damaged and destroyed.
Furthermore, it can be tedious to monitor who has access to the paper documents or information and whether it is printed or copied. This is especially troublesome for sensitive information.
Creating digital documentation gives added security to your information and data.
With most systems, you can usually set up access rights and permissions. This in turn gives added security to sensitive information.
And these are just a few of the benefits associated with a paperless office.
8. Less waste
While some papers must remain in actual paper form, the majority of the stuff that can serve better may serve in digital form. When it comes to managing projects, paperless project management can help you save a lot of space.
One of the primary motivations for going paperless in the office is to save office space. Switch to storing corporate data in a cloud-based system or on a private company server. This will add value to the time you spend at work.
Consider how much more productive your team can be if you get rid of those big filing cabinets,
And other paper-related stuff. You can convert an old archive room into a social space for employees, or you can improve the aesthetics of your workplace by giving comfort and design.
It is totally up to you what you use with this extra room, and there are several options, the majority of which are far more interesting than paper storage.
9. More control over the workflows
After the pandemic of 2020, many companies were compelled to overcome their qualms about enabling workers to work remotely. Meanwhile, many other companies have done it effectively for many years.
Allowing employees to work remotely, in actuality, saves a large amount of money. It necessitates fewer service staff, such as those needed for security and housekeeping. It also means lower energy and water expenses. If you just need a little amount of office space, you may be able to cut or eliminate your rental costs.
However, for remote work to be successful, papers must be digitally preserved. Furthermore, Cloud storage keeps your data in several secure locations with disaster protection. You can also secure your files by backing them up both locally and remotely.
Embracing a paperless environment makes you look more intelligent. It implies that your firm is ready to deal with future issues. It indicates that you will not be left behind the next time a big technological advancement happens.
Going Paperless at Work: How to Run a Paperless Office?
Making this change in your organization won’t be as easy as it may seem. It is not merely about deciding to make the change to go paperless and everything just falling into place.
However, there are certain steps you can take and tips you can follow to help smooth the transition to attaining a paperless office.
Tip 1: Transition into the Paperless World Gradually.
The first thing to consider when going paperless is to make the transition gradual so that there are more chances of it sticking.
Making the switch altogether lessens the chances that you will be able to maintain the change for very long.
This slow transition will allow you to implement new processes that minimize the use of paper but still serve your company and its workers.
Keep in mind that you may not be going completely paper zero. And this is especially true for the transition period where you may find an integrated system being adopted for a while where certain processes are still using paper while others go paperless.
One way to start the transition is by limiting the number of prints available to employees.
You can do this by moving some of the printers in the office, getting less paper so people do not print as much, or even adopting policies such as a limit on how much each employee can print.
Tip 2: Get Employee and Manager Buy-ins and Get Everyone Involved
Another thing you want to ensure is that everyone is involved and on board with the changes that are being implemented.
This change is a change that will take the entire organization and is not a one-person job.
Involve employees in the decision-making and process changes so that you can create a process that not only everyone is on board with but that will also work in accordance with your company culture.
Moreover, involving employees will offer up more solutions to problems that you could face along the way that you would otherwise not have thought of or considered.
Give employees some ownership over the change that you are making so they are more likely to work towards the end goal with you.
You can put up signs and reminders around the office or near printers and fax machines in your attempt to limit paper use so employees stay involved.
Tip 3: Provide Necessary Tools and Make it Easier to Work Without Paper
There is no point in trying to make the transition into a paperless system if you do not offer necessary alternatives or processes that can be used instead.
Ensure that the processes you create are easy while still achieving what you need them to achieve and also providing additional benefits that we mentioned above, that is cost efficiency, time-saving, less effort, etc.
When thinking of necessary tools that may be required by your employees consider what they use paper for. Some common uses of paper in offices include:
- Note-taking in meetings
- Reminders and to-do lists
- Collaboration on documents and information circulation
- Roadmaps and project plans
One tool you can consider implementing which will do away with the need for printing or using paper for the above is a project management tool like nTask.
nTask offers a load of features all encapsulated within a single platform and digitized so you can avoid using paper yet still being easy to use and adaptable by your employees.
nTask offers task management tools and features. You can easily create tasks, assign tasks to individuals, and set deadlines and task priorities. You can even add to-do lists so you will no longer need paper to-do lists.
The app comes equipped with communication and collaboration features so that employees can discuss things on the platform in regard to different tasks rather than on printed pages or on scrap paper.
You can set notifications and reminders so that you no longer need post-its on desks to keep track of approaching deadlines.
nTask’s meeting management module comes equipped with the ability to set meetings and create meeting agendas while also noting down minutes of the meeting that is accessible on the platform but can also be emailed to individuals.
Apart from this, the tool also offers integrations with different apps so you can create a streamlined process where you can easily cut out the use of unnecessary paper to make paperless workflows for those things that are not in the project management tool but can be incorporated as a whole system.
Check out all of nTask available features here.
Tips for making a successful transition to going paperless
Here are the tips for making a smooth transition to going paperless:
1. Be the first to adopt a paperless system
Set goals for each department and for the entire business to encourage everyone to utilize an electronic document management system. Appreciate your team when the goal is met to encourage employees to participate in paperless efforts.
The most important component of going paperless is setting a good example. If your employees see you leading the way, they will be more likely to follow, and you will stress the need of becoming paperless.
2. Get Everyone on Board with Going Paperless
Your firm will not be able to complete the transition until your employees are on board. Ensure that employees are aware of the time, energy, and money saved. Inform them about our smartphone app. It gives them easy access everywhere there is phone service. They can view, read, and trade documents and files without taking up any storage space on their phone.
3. Digitalize your document management system
Now when you’ve built some initiative programs and gotten your workforce on board with going paperless.
Consider efficient digital strategies for organizing what you have before scanning physical documents into the cloud—and chances are, you have a lot. To cope with these mountains of paper, divide the work and assign teams accordingly.
4. Invest in Software and Training
There are various digital document management software to choose from, so do your research and weigh your options before making a selection. Create a list of the tools your firm needs in a document management system service, as well as the features you desire but aren’t a must-have.
5. Adopt an online content-preserving application
To preserve notes, documents, pictures, and other materials in one location, scan them with a document scanner or scanning software.
Consider employing an online fax service if your firm still utilizes faxes. The best online faxing services offer a low-cost way to send and receive faxes via email and preserve them digitally.
6. Switch to paperless billing to create a paperless environment
A paperless workplace requires the collaboration of other organizations and enterprises. Request paperless bank statements, talk with vendors about digital invoicing options, and tell customers about purchase-order communications.
Disadvantages of a Paper-Based Office System
Convincing anyone to change a fundamental element of how they work is often difficult. It is human nature to resist change and be comfortable with what you know.
We have discussed above that it is important to gain not just management buy-in but also the support of employees to make the transition smooth if at all possible.
One way to encourage this change is to highlight the issues that are prevalent in a typical paper-based office system.
Highlighting pockets of unproductivity could help encourage employees to move past their comfort zones and take steps to overcome these issues that are faced.
Reiterate to your employees the time wasted and workflows affected by having to manage and handle the paperwork.
In fact, an IDC White Paper survey found that there is a loss of 21.3% in productivity in relation to wasted time associated with handling paper.
Your employees will agree that they spend valuable time capturing, storing, organizing, and searching for documents or data. A way to overcome the tedious processes associated with paper documents is likely to come as a welcome surprise.
Another disadvantage is the obvious cost associated with paper processes. We have discussed this above in detail.
In fact, studies show that employee printing on average costs around $150 just including ink and toner. And this cost could be more depending on which industry you look into.
Not to mention the cost of employee time in the processes involved with paper documents. Employees will be happy to know their valuable time and efforts can be better spent on more valued inputs.
How to go paperless at home?
Clear your junk in bunches. Se your paperless system at the house following these steps.
- Sign up for electronic billing
- Invest in cloud storage
- Create a system for quickly locating essential documents
- Keep important papers in at least two places
- Set up automatic backups
- Get a paper shredder
- Use a to-do list app instead of sticky notes
- Use online signup forms instead of paper ones
- Switch from paper to pdf reading
Benefits of paperless home
- Digital Documentation – Make seamless Electronic transmissions. Using the “Track Changes” tool, it is simple to track changes and record comments.
- Emails – Content and information may be searched easily. Can be Accessed through phone
- Internet– Search provides instant access to information. The ability to store, copy, and bookmark material for future reference
- eBooks and media portals -The content is immediately available. Space does not limit the message to real-time updates and alerts. A little e-reader that can hold a large number of books
Going paperless from a paper-based business includes a digital transformation as we have indicated above.
There are typically 5 main steps to being able to digitize your workspace. These steps are digitizing, organizing, automating, streamlining, and transforming.
We hope our tips and tricks will help you make the transition to a paperless office. If more and more organizations make the switch we can hopefully start to revert some of the damage we have done to the Earth so that future generations have a world worth living in.