The average office worker uses around 10,000 sheets of paper per year. From print mistakes to billing, presentations, and junk mail, paper products make up an estimated 70% of total office waste. But it’s not just the environment that suffers from using so much paper – your business does too. It’s estimated that 3% of a company’s revenue is spent on paper printing, filing, storage, and maintenance. That's without considering the associated cost of time spent searching for a specific document or finding a misplaced one. In short, going paperless is not only environmentally friendly but also highly beneficial for your company’s finances. However, creating a paperless office is no easy feat, especially if your company has been using paper for a long time. You need to get adequate software, implement the correct policies, and train your staff to guarantee a smooth paperless transformation.
Setting up a Paperless Office
All changes come with their challenges, and going paperless is no different. Like any business transformation, one of the tasks you need to tackle right away is employee inertia. When people are used to doing something a certain way, they often have difficulties embracing new processes. Ensuring that everyone is on board, training your staff, and showing them the benefits of a paperless office are key for a successful paperless transformation. After all, your company only goes as far as your employees are willing to take it.
Another obvious challenge is getting the correct hardware and software, which can take some time to find. Moreover, the upfront investment can be a deal-breaker for companies who already have a paper-based setup. Consequently, we recommend doing the necessary calculations to confirm that the ROI of going paperless more than makes up for its initial cost.
Depending on your business, you may be bound by law to have a hard copy of documents or save originals with a ‘wet’ ink signature. If this is the case, do your research to check if your industry has started accepting digital signatures. Even if you aren’t able to go completely paperless, it’s still beneficial if you only digitalize 50% of the company’s paper use.
Recommended Paperless Office Solutions
As paperless offices are becoming increasingly popular, various solutions have appeared to help companies overcome the challenges of this massive transformation. However, going through all the options can be time-consuming, so we’ve compiled a list of the most important ones.
Faxing Without Paper: eFax
Virtual Phone System: RingCentral
Secure Password Notes: 1Password
Digital Payroll: Gusto
Cloud-Based Accounting: 1-800Accountant
Document Digitization: Raven
Benefits of a Paperless Office System
Running a paperless office system comes with many benefits that easily overshadow its challenges. Of course, there’s the decrease in spending on paper, ink, toner, and printer maintenance. But there are also hidden savings in opting for a paperless office solution, such as the cost associated with the time employees take to find a certain document in a filing cabinet versus simply using a software’s search bar.
Despite the common belief, having all your documents in the cloud can be more secure than having papers stored in a filing cabinet. Of course, this is only true if you get a platform that offers data encryption. Additionally, the software protects your business against human error. Not only is it easier to lose or misplace a physical document, but it’s also a piece of cake to retrieve deleted files with an online file storage platform, as the software regularly backs up all data. Finally, the environment will highly appreciate your efforts to go paperless, as you’ll substantially decrease your company’s carbon emissions.
Additional Advice for Creating a Paperless Working Environment
There are a few more ways for you to create a paperless working environment. For instance, remote companies are known for having everything online and are an excellent example of how to run a paperless office. Meanwhile, automating your finance processes and having all information in the cloud creates an easier way to create and read complex reports, as well as doing routine activities, such as payroll.