Switching to a reduced paper or completely paper-free office is being a popular option as technology continues to improve and access to electronic documents is easier than ever.
While the environmental impact of switching to electronic document management is significant, the ability to quickly find important information is a major reason that businesses are storing their files on servers instead of in filing cabinets. Losing track of an important hard copy can cause serious problems for organizations, leading to missed deadlines, upset vendors and business partners and even legal issues. When electronic files are used and properly backed up, there’s no chance that a file accidentally falling behind a cabinet or into the trash will harm productivity or incur the wrath of a regulatory agency.
Companies that have and use a significant amount of paper copies need a strategy for the conversion to an electronic office, including components like document scanning and plans for how to name and store electronic files in subdirectories. Here are three pieces of advice for organizations to make the transition as smooth as possible:
1. Make the hard decisions about what to keep, and make them early
Businesses with large amounts of files usually have information that they don’t need to retain. While it’s tempting to scan anything and everything into a new, digital storage system, keeping records of no use will simply create electronic clutter. Before converting documents, businesses should assign priority and value to their documents. Although these categories will vary based on industry, some conceptual categories to build on are: legally required, daily importance, occasionally accessed and never used. Items that fall into the last category should be disposed of.
2. Allow time for training and adjustment
Employees, especially those who have been at a business for a while, may find switching to a new operational system difficult at first. Build in some training sessions for all staff members to understand electronic filing concepts and be comfortable with accessing and storing information. Organizational site Unclutterer points out that some time to adjust can help make the switchover less jarring and easier to adapt to.
3. Don’t get frustrated
It can be tough for businesses to go completely paperless, depending on their industry. However, the benefits of a digital office are still achievable when a significant reduction, instead of a total elimination, of paper is the goal, according to Fox Business. Companies should determine if there are any absolutely necessary paper practices due to legal or client requirements and work around them.