A paperless office is a work environment which uses minimal physical paper and instead uses primarily digital documents. A paperless employee is a worker who has eliminated or greatly reduced the use of paper in the workplace. The process of converting paper files into electronic files is known as digitization.
Time spent filing, organizing, and searching for paper documents is time that could be spent on more productive tasks. Digitized documents are stored in a central repository, which is basically a well-organized digital filing cabinet where all of your documents live.
Using a digital document management system, you’ll get to harness the same powerful search abilities that you’re used to using on Google. This means employees can find files at the click of a button, much more quickly than the laborious, manual process of searching for a specific file in a buried folder.
Paper takes up a lot of space – as do filing cabinets and space to store those filing cabinets. Books and bookshelves are bulky, too. What’s worse, paper keeps piling up, oftentimes accumulating more quickly than it can be sorted and organized. This is particularly true of industries that have long mandatory retention periods for paperwork like the financial industry.
Going digital improved process efficiency, saving you money. Paperless offices can process a much larger volume of paperwork compared to traditional offices in the same amount of time.
Further, digitization reduces money spent on paper, printers, ink, postage, office space for files and employee time to manage paperwork. The savings on employee time become especially valuable in regards to regulatory audits and repetitive, high-volume tasks like expense reimbursements.
Eases Transfer of Information
Document management software offers a simple process for saving documents. The software easily compiles digital documents using scanners, mobile capture using a camera on a phone or tablet or importing any file type (.docx, .pdf, image files). Many commonly used applications, like Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat, integrate with document management systems and have native plugins which allow you to file your document into your content management system with just one click.
Promotes the Environment
Manufacturing paper products produce greenhouse gases, causing deforestation and global warming. Recycling can offset some of the environmental impact, but not by much. Most paper eventually ends up in a landfill. Further, ink and toners contain volatile compounds and non-renewable substances which are damaging to the environment. It is much more sustainable to simply reduce paper use altogether by switching to a paperless office.
Reducing your reliance on paper allows you to create a more sustainable business. Even with recycling, the amount of paper used in U.S. offices grows 20% a year. The average employee uses an astounding 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year. Your company can contribute to the well-being of the environment by cutting down on the amount of paper you use.
Beyond paper, the printer, ink, and ink cartridges are harmful to the environment as well. It takes over 3 quarts of oil to create a laser printer and inkjet cartridges. Printers and ink also contain potentially harmful chemicals that, if disposed of improperly, pollute water and soil and contribute to the spread of ecological damage.
Not only is an eco-friendly approach more sustainable and better for the planet, it also helps your brand image. In today’s culture, most customers know how much waste is produced in an office and are concerned about the environment. You can showcase your company’s concern for the environment and how your business is making a difference by participating in different reporting initiatives and certification programs, such as ENERGY STAR and Fitwel.
Peace of mind
Working in a fast-paced environment is exciting; it can also be very stressful. You can reduce some of the stress by going paperless. The decreased clutter, seamless access to data and other assets, increased security, and reduced busywork all make for a more peaceful workspace.
You can reduce the chaos of paperwork, the fear of losing something important, eliminate errors, and strengthen the security of your organization. You can’t get rid of all the stress of running a business, but you can make it much easier.
Physical documents are hard to track – reams of paper can get lost, misfiled or destroyed without anyone noticing. It can also be difficult to monitor the access, printing and copying of sensitive files. Document management software has advanced security capabilities that can tackle these challenges. System administrators can set-up granular access rights, which assign permissions at the document level (e.g. settings based on the type of document), user level (e.g. settings based on person’s job function), or system level (e.g. overarching security for all data in the system).
The security benefits of a paperless workplace go beyond access rights. Implementing document management software also allows organizations to leverage electronic signatures, redact confidential information, create audit trails and more.