Depending on the type of business, many offices can see hundreds of sheets of paper flow through during a typical workday. Everything from invoices to purchase orders to presentations to internal memos are printed on paper. It’s just the way things have always been done. But what if the traditional way of doing business is no longer the best way?
The paperless workforce is a highly desirable goal for many businesses, but one that seems just out of reach. After all, replacing all of that paper can feel like a daunting task. However, modern technological solutions have made the paperless workforce a realistic possibility for most businesses. Plus, there are countless benefits to making this important transition.
What is a Paperless Workforce?
The paperless workforce, or paperless office, as many people refer to it, is a workspace where the business has implemented systems to drastically reduce paper use with the goal of achieving complete elimination of paper products in business processes. Why is this such a big deal?
There are several main benefits to making the switch. The most significant benefit, from a purely business performance point of view, is the reduced cost. Some studies suggest that businesses may be spending as much as 3% of their total revenue on paper products. This doesn’t even include the cost of storing paper files, performing maintenance on equipment, or buying replacement consumable products like toner or ink cartridges.
Of course, there is the environmental aspect of reducing paper usage. Many businesses are becoming more conscious about the amount of waste created. Moving towards a paperless office is good for the environment and can even improve employee morale as they feel they’re making a difference.
Finally, going paperless can lead to more efficiency within the office. Outdated workflows often require printing, sharing of files, copying, and scanning. All these steps, while seemingly insignificant on their own, can add up and become a black pit of inefficiency. Employees can unchain themselves from the burden of paper and take control of their work, even working outside the office to meet with clients face-to-face rather than needing to be near a printer at all times.
How to Move Towards Becoming a Paperless Office
There are several steps businesses can take to make the leap from paper-dependent to paperless.
Lead From the Top
Management sets the tone in any business. It’s important for managers to take steps to become leaders in developing paperless behaviors. Develop company policy or mission statements around paperless initiatives, adopt those initiatives at all levels of the business, including management levels, and be the example employees need to follow.
Operate with Transparency
Many employees may be hesitant to adopt paperless workflows because they don’t understand how the initiatives translate to them. Being open and honest about the importance of going paperless can help staff understand the role they play in the success of the business. What can the savings of going paperless provide to your staff? Perhaps this opens the opportunity for expansion, increased bonuses, or greater chance for pay raises. Don’t send down orders from on high but, instead, provide explanations as to why this policy is important to everyone in the business.
Improve Document Storage and Organization
Becoming a paperless office is impossible unless there is an improved way to store, share, and view documents in one place. This means that a paperless document management system needs to be put into place. Going paperless isn’t something that should be done “just because” but rather something that should improve the workplace.
Centralized and organized document management systems don’t just help reduce paper usage, either. These systems can give employees access to essential documents from all devices, including smartphones and tablets. Not only can they improve their document storage habits, but they can also work when, where, and how is best for them.
Finding the right software to meet the needs of the business is vital in ensuring the success of this step. Identify essential requirements for a document management system and then find the software that fits. Does the service need to be cloud-based and accessible from anywhere? Are there specific compliance guidelines like HIPAA that need to be followed? All of this should be considered.
Set Realistic Goals
It’s unlikely that most businesses will become completely paperless overnight. Set achievable goals with specific targets that can be measured and reviewed regularly. Perhaps goals should be broken down by specific departments or teams for the best success. If necessary, it may be smart to add rewards for meeting goals like performance bonuses or even something as simple as an office pizza party.
Partner with the Experts
Becoming a paperless workforce isn’t a switch that can be flipped. It requires thoughtful analysis and implementation of proven strategies. Intellinetics is a leader in implementing document management systems and workflows that can help businesses achieve the goal of becoming a truly paperless office.
To learn more, contact Intellinetics today.