What is a Paperless Office?

A paperless office, also called a paper-free 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.

The idea of an entirely paperless office has existed since personal computers became the basis of the modern workplace. Despite the prevalence of electronic documents and email, most organizations still rely on paper documents. There are many benefits to going paperless, from saving resources to boosting security. Yet from handouts at meetings and HR onboarding documents to receipts, many business processes still revolve around paper.

Benefits of Going Paperless

Saves Time

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. Employees are able to use this extra time on revenue-generating projects.

Saves Space

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.

Digitizing files allows you to store all documents either on an on-premises server or in the cloud. Digital file folders in a repository require much less space than a physical records archive.

Saves Money

Going digital improves 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.

Boosts Security

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.

Digitizing Paper-Based Processes

Technology has so seamlessly replaced paper processes that it’s difficult to remember how things used to be done. In nearly all cases, the evolution from paper-based items to their electronic counterparts is profoundly more efficient.

ThenNow
 

Paper Documents

  • Tediously shuffle paper between individuals and departments
  • Difficult to track changes when collaborating on a document
 

Digital Documents

  • Seamless electronic transfer between individuals and departments
  • Easy to track changes and records comments using “Track Changes” feature
 

Mail & Faxes

  • Constant maintenance required to organize and find documents, especially really old ones
  • Access based on location of documents
  • Easily misplaced or damaged
 

Email

  • Easily searchable based on content and metadata
  • Access from phone or browser
  • Archived forever. Even in the event of a deletion, can potentially be recovered
 

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

  • Slow process to look up words and topics one by one
  • All data remains inside volumes of book
  • Access from wherever the book is at the time
 

Internet

  • Instantaneous access to information using search
  • Ability to save, copy and bookmark data to reference
  • Access from anywhere with Internet
Newspapers, Books & Magazines

  • News quickly becomes outdated
  • Message constrained by word space and page count
  • Slow redaction time and news cycle
  • Each new book takes up more space
 

Media Websites & eBooks

  • Immediate access to content
  • Message not constrained by space
  • Real-time updates and amendments and 24-hour news cycle
  • Compact e-reader holds multiple books and magazines

 

 

Printed Maps

  • No way to factor in traffic, road closures and other barriers
  • Gets worn out, cumbersome to use while driving
  • Becomes out-of-date

 

Waze, Google Maps & Navigation Devices

  • Reacts to traffic to maximize route efficiency and gives an accurate estimate of arrival time
  • Lives within a mobile device
  • Updated regularly to ensure accurate navigation
Business Cards & Rolodexes

  • Business cards pile up and get lost
  • Rolodex must be manually updated
 

Contacts Synced

  • Contacts live within email program and mobile phone app
  • Updates to contact information automatically synced across devices

The Path to Digital Transformation

Deciding to make the move from paper to paperless is part of a larger process called digital transformation.

Laserfiche has identified five key steps to completely digitize your workplace:

  1. Digitize: convert all documents from paper to digital
  2. Organize: categorize documents in a central electronic filing cabinet
  3. Automate: digitize business processes using forms and workflow
  4. Streamline: take a high-level view of business processes to identify bottlenecks and opportunities for more efficiency
  5. Transform: use advanced analytics to turn data into insights on how to make your company even more efficient

Document management software is a crucial tool to this road to digital transformation. Beyond the immediate benefits of going paperless, digitizing is the first step to transforming your workplace and ultimately driving business forward.

For even more info about the benefits of going paperless, download the Ultimate Guide to Document Scanning:

improve document storage imaging across your organization ebook

 

 

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