There are a variety of advantages associated with electronic document and office practices. Some, like environmental responsibility, have been championed since the concept of a paperless office was first floated in the 1970s.
While eliminating most or all of the use of paper in an office environment can greatly reduce the burden placed on the ecosystem, there are more immediate benefits that directly apply to the financial bottom line and overall productivity of businesses using electronic document management.
Inc. Magazine points out that decentralization – not requiring all workers to come into the office every day – is one of those business-based benefits, allowing staff to easily travel on business and still access important information or to telecommute without hassle. Inside and outside the office, employees spend less time searching for a particular piece of paper they need and more time working on the important tasks they were hired to perform.
Collaboration also becomes easier when employees aren’t limited by their proximity to the contents of a file cabinet. Businesses with many offices can have staff collaborate on projects regardless of physical location. Consultants can more easily access stored information. Presentations can be easily shared and distributed without having to print, staple, cover and mail hard copies.
Cost savings are, of course, another major reason to make the switch to paperless processes. GreenBiz.com points out that the University of Oregon eliminated the paper used in its review processes of courses and professors and ended up saving $200,000. Although this figure includes ancillary costs like physical forms collection and scanning, it’s impressive that simply shifting a non-essential process to a paperless setup led to such significant savings.
Businesses on the fence about using an electronic process to store, sort and access its documents should consider the practical benefits and the role paperless applications play in maintaining a healthy overall environment.