For many businesses, the biggest roadblock to truly adopting a paper-free or reduced paper office is a lack of understanding about the issue.
One example of this deficit of knowledge is that a lot of companies don’t understand that significantly reducing the use of physical documents, but not totally eliminating them, is a viable strategy that can result in marked savings and a reduced environmental footprint. Depending on a specific organization’s field of operations, completely eliminating the use of paper documents may not be possible. This is especially true for those in the legal and accounting fields, where regulatory and legal requirements necessitate the retention of a variety of records on paper.
However, companies can still take advantage of processes like automated data capture and electronic storage for the majority of their files and reap the time and cost savings provided by these processes. Here are some pieces of advice to help guide the changeover:
Consider the short- and long-term benefits
There are plenty of immediately apparent savings involved when businesses go paperless or significantly reduce the amount used on a regular basis. Purchasing supplies becomes a much smaller and more manageable expense and mailing costs for documents also decline by a large amount. However, Microsoft Business points out that the savings that take longer to realize may be the most significant of all. Printers last longer and don’t need to be repaired or replaced nearly as often, cutting down the hundreds or thousands of dollars commonly spent on those devices. Filing cabinets, which also have costs in the same range, no longer need to be purchased either – saving both office space as well as money. The ROI for an electronic office takes time to be fully realized.
It can’t be overstated that having willing staff members makes the paperless switch much easier. Although workers will realize the time savings and ease of locating information by using electronic document management, they need to have some understanding of how the new workflow will fit into their days. Inc. Magazine suggests that managers and decision-makers find the most involved and interested employees and use them as a supplementary educational resource. By having designated staff members that can aid in learning efforts, the major, company-wide training sessions can be supplemented with more individualized instruction and reminders.