Businesses interested in creating a paperless workflow should keep a surprising statistic in mind:Average paper use by employees didn’t peak until 2001 and has yet to fall back down to 1990-era levels – roughly 100 lbs. of paper per worker, per year.
The Economist points out one of the reasons paper use increased was the simplicity of hitting the print button for a photocopier or printer. Additionally, the printing of various electronic forms of communication, like emails and Webpages, contributed to the increase.
The important thing to remember for companies considering the switch to electronic document storage is that while it’s easy to overuse the capabilities of a printer, there’s little benefit that comes from it. Hitting “print” also doesn’t lead to a reduction in costs – a print-heavy culture in a office leads to high prices for items like paper and toner, along with a greater burden for disposal.
The use of an effective paperless storage system will lead to easier access and distribution of internally stored documents, reducing reliance on photocopies, or worse, high-volume printing. Outside items like emails and text and images from Webpages can even be kept in such a system, reducing the temptation to create a hard copy of electronic media.
A research report from software company Adobe shows that sentiment among many employees is for the institution of paperless practices and the overall limiting of the use of physical documents. The two most common pains referred to in the study were concerns over misplacing paper-based contract documents and the physical space needed to maintain paper files.
Similarly, two of the most common reasons given for the support of digital processes were the ability to drive down costs and the increased simplicity of locating and using items stored electronically.