Computerised systems were implemented in the 1960s. Since then, people have talked about the possibility of paperless offices. There have been many studies and researches to understand if a paperless office could really be possible. In 1970s, there were many studies which concluded that paper would eventually be redundant because of office automation. Even after 30 years, we have not been able to come up with paperless offices. However, with powerful tools and technology like tablet computing and cloud-based storage systems, we might be able to turn this dream into reality in the near future.
Interestingly, according to most surveys, the use of paper has actually doubled in the last three decades. Technological advancement has made printing easier and cheaper. Moreover, easy internet access has given an opportunity to be familiar vast knowledge which can be printed without much efforts.
Contrary to this, the amount of paper being used in the workplace has declined in the last ten years. Researchers believe that this has been possible because of more email usage and a younger generation in offices, which is more comfortable in reading, editing and writing digital documents on computers, tablets and other gadgets.
What is a Paperless Office
To be precise, in a paperless office, all kinds of internal and external communication are conducted electronically. Printers, fax machines or envelopes are not used in a paperless office. Every piece of document is sent electronically to clients, customers, stakeholders and employees. As a result, there is no need for paper.
The dream of a paperless office originated with the invention of the personal computer. In fact, with technological advancements, electronic document distribution became popular and all the documents were digitised. Due to this, the dream of a paperless office seemed to become reality in near future. However, businesses have still not been able to adopt the concept of a paperless office. But more and more businesses are taking a keen interest in this prospect because of numerous advantages.
First of all, a paperless office would mean that an organization would also be acting responsibly and protecting the environment. Moreover, electronic document distribution is much secure, faster and cheaper. In fact, a business organization won’t even need additional staff to handle paperwork and printing technologies.
What is Electronic Document Distribution
In an electronic document distribution system, an organization informs its customers, clients and other stakeholders that their online statements or invoices are ready for them to view. Moreover, customers, clients and stakeholders are also able to make payments online. Usually, paper is used for sending invoices and bills to clients and customers. However, an electronic document distribution system eliminates the need of paper for such tasks.
One major obstacle is that it may be difficult to implement an electronic document distribution system on your own. Moreover, you also need a trained professional who has appropriate knowledge of the software. There are many companies which handle electronic document distribution systems. You can simply hire their services and leave the rest up to them. Either you will have to completely outsource tasks by emailing them invoices and statements or you will have to hire their professionals for technical assistance.
With the cost of paper and printing rising, it is important to understand some ways in which you can make your office paperless. Here are some simple steps that will help you to accomplish this task.
Convert whatever you can to Electronic Form
It is very important to understand that receiving less paper is as important as using less paper. Therefore, you should convert all the financial information including bills to electronic form. You should also get off any catalog lists or junk mail. There are also many software programs which can keep all your financial information in a single place electronically.
Buy a Good Scanner
This is another important decision you should take. It is important to scan all documents to your desktop or laptop rather than building up piles of paper. There are many good scanners in the market which can be bought at affordable prices. Once you have scanned the documents, shred paper documents and get them recycled.
Manage an Organized System
People usually think that just scanning documents and implementing electronic document distribution systems would save a lot of time and energy. However, it won’t be much helpful if you don’t manage an organized system. In case you have no idea where your electronic documents are stored, you will end up wasting the same amount of time that you would have wasted on paper documents. You can create keywords or folder-based names so that you don’t lose any electronic documents.
There are many people who don’t like reading documents on a computer screen. Such people print a lot of documents and waste paper. However, tablets and ereaders can be used as excellent alternatives if you don’t want to read long documents on a computer screen. Moreover, tablets and ereaders can be easily bought at affordable prices these days.
Backup your Documents
Last but not the least, make sure you backup all your documents. Computers may be attacked by viruses or crash. You should invest in a good backup software so that you don’t lose any data. You can choose an external drive to store data. Moreover, cloud-based storage systems are also quite popular these days. They have brought a revolution in the way people store and access electronic data.
Paperless offices are simple and convenient for everyone. Moreover, they also help you to protect the environment and save our planet. In fact, if you can advertise yourself as ‘responsible’ or ‘green’ in present times, it can be an added advantage and an excellent way to attract more customers. A paperless office is the best way to make sure that your office does not have high energy requirements. With printers and other machines out of the office, you will be able to cut down energy bills. You will also not need expensive folders, storage cabinets and so on. The dream of a paperless office may not be truly realized. However, you can make efforts to attain an almost paperless office.