The paperless office has been an ideal for years, but until very recently it wasn’t truly possible. Thanks to emerging technologies and ingenious businesses it is now a more realistic goal than ever before.
According to GreenBiz, the concept of a paperless office first appeared in a 1975 Businessweek article that said that offices would trade paper for digital work by the mid 1990s. Clearly that did not happen, but the concept is still around and with today’s modern technology we can come closer and closer to making it a reality.
Enterprise content management
The first step in getting your office paperless, according to another article from GreenBiz , is investing in an enterprise content management system. These systems allow companies to easily make the jump from paper to digital, as the source reported they allow for the capture, archiving and searching of paper documents in digital forms so whatever any employee needs is at his fingertips at a moment’s notice.
ECM systems also create automated processes in the office that reduce the amount of paper, energy and resources needed to complete a task. When an employee doesn’t have to manually look up a document or fax or ship a document to another location, the company will save both time and paper. ECM systems can even help save on transportation costs and cut down on greenhouse emissions, as digital storage and sharing of documents means less cars and trucks transporting documents from place to place, according to GreenBiz.
Enterprise content management means moving your business to the cloud, which can have other advantages. Centralization online can give your company access to free email accounts, word processing and other services, saving more money, according to BusinessGreen.
For businesses that deal with a high volume of reports on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, e-reader technology can provide immense savings, BusinessGreen reported. Getting an e-reader for each employee who deals with reports allows for rapid and targeted distribution of any report the company generates, which will help further the financial and environmental benefits of going paperless. Distributing necessary reports directly to a hand-held device saves on printing and paper costs. It also saves time, especially if employees are mobile and shipping the reports adds an extra layer of complexity to the process.
“Working from home has become a much more common and accepted business practice.”
In the modern business landscape, telecommuting, or working from home, has become a much more common and accepted business practice. This can mean a substantial reduction in paper, as most of the work done by an individual employee can be done online. Messages and documents sent between workers can now be downloaded to devices from the cloud instead of physically being printed and moved from place to place.
Shifting to a telecommunting model can benefit your employees in more ways than one. A Global Workplace Analytics study said, two-thirds of employees would take advantage of the opportunity to work from home if it was offered, with 36 percent saying they would forego a pay raise in order to be able to telecommute.
Replacing traditional printed reports with mobile technology, like tablets, can cut down on errors at the same time it saves paper. In hospitals, replacing the traditional clipboard at the foot of the bed with tablets has led to fewer errors due to misread hand-written instructions, according to BusinessGreen. It also keeps pages of what formerly would have been wasted paper in a single digital place.
The benefits of going to a paperless model are readily apparent, but in the past have been something of a pipe-dream without the needed technology. Now in the modern world the technology has caught up and the dream of the paperless office is becoming a reality.