The paperless office concept has been around for many years, but most of the workplaces are still paper-dependent, Ever wondered Why? There are multiple reasons behind it, but the biggest one is we as humans resist change.
Taking everything digital means people will need to learn new protocols and new technology. We've already built a habit of using paper. But this habit not only cost us time but money. Paper consumption means a lot of hours to be devoted to creating documentation. This includes printing, copying, and scanning and that's not even the tip of the iceberg, though employees spend hours while filing paper documents, and companies need special space to store these files. Some of these documents might even contain some sensitive information, which means it can't be exposed to general employees, and with paper-based documents, it is easier than said. After all this, there are costs of paper supplies and of course the effect this paper has on the environment.
As of now we already have the technology available to create a pure paperless environment. But to make some leads and bound in this area, people will need to first understand the benefits so that the same could be communicated to employees as well.
You'll also need to develop a full-fledged strategy with incentives to make the whole company committed to the new plan.
What is paperless?
As of today, only a very few companies are fully paperless. But, many have already started the process to cut down the use of paper.
No business model functions in a bubble. If clients and other businesses are working with a paper base structure, it will take a long time to get into the fully paperless phase. Certain business industries use paper more than other industries. In places where the use of paper is a must, going completely paperless will be a lengthy and time-consuming process.
But, how did the idea of the paperless office start? It might sound odd, but the idea was much ahead in terms of technology. It was first introduced by Business week magazine in 1975 in the article "The office of the Future".
At that time, the technology to make your business paperless didn't exist, and the idea of doing business without using any sort of paper was nothing but a future prediction.
But, now the modern offices have all means of technology available to stop the use of paper. But talking statistically, we're still using far more paper than required. Not only we're having an increased consumption of paper in our society, but a lot of it is wasteful.
Methods of going paperless
There are numerous ways to take your workplace to a paperless journey and you need to make sure that your strategy takes your office, employees and the process into account. If you are working with a larger organization, it will help if you get the team members involved in the planning stage, because the staff understands the day-to-day process better than the high level executives, so it's always helpful to have them in your planning meetings.
You can simply start by assessing your workflow as it is. Get the team of your employees involved in the assessment. You can even outsource this to some third party company having the knowledge of your workflow.
Once you or the third party you hired to outsource understand how your company process works, make a list of ways that you use paper with and start finding the alternatives.
90% of people underestimate the volume of paper they have been using in their workplace and not only in the form of formal documentation but also the day planners, calendars, post-it notes and notepads. Going paperless can't be done in an instant because it might hinder the way their employees work and collaborate with outside businesses, who still may be on paper.
Different ways to go paperless
If you can break down the process into steps, it'll become much easier to manage the process of going paperless. The challenge will get more manageable with each positive change that you make. And going forward you can go with the technologies that don't involve any paper usage.
Instead of using the normal paper based forms, you need to start using online forms to gather data of your visitors.
This is one of the most popular options as of today because it not only helps you in removing those storage cabinets but also provides you access to your documents anywhere.
Start using scanners, to make all the available documents digitally available. You can either use some of the apps available in the market.
Visitor management system:
Instead of using the paper based check-in system start using an automated visitor management solution. That won't only ease your burden of paper but will also help you in streamlining the process and your workplace.
Instead of using post-it notes or notepads start using Note taking apps such as evernote.
There's no legal point that requires you to use a paper based system with physical signature. An e-signature is equally legal.
Provide digital receipts:
If you are a business that provides receipts of your customer purchases instead of providing them with paper based receipts try providing them with digital receipts.
One of the major advantages of going paperless is that you would be able to do document management more effectively. So whether you're using one of those free software or a paid document management solution. Digital records are much easier to store, find and use.
The basic task of building a paperless office system may look much overwhelming, but in the long run will save your precious time. It'll improve the work environment as well. As it'll remove the stress caused by the lack of organization.
Best Paperless Management Practices
Losing a digital document is as easy as losing a paper base document. So you need to make sure that you are keeping your documents up to date by filing the correct information. So that whenever you need to find a document you can simply find it by searching.
Not everyone in your organization can have access to every document available. That's why you need to create a role based access system that will allow access of the files to the authorized people only.
Having a digital visitor management solution will help you in understanding the check-in and check-out logs of your employees anywhere. A visitor management solution will also help you speed up and streamline the process of check-in.
Depending on the industry you are working in, there may be a legal mandate about how long you need to keep your client files. But, once the period has been passed you should purge those old records to make room for new ones.
Ready to take your workplace to the digital journey?