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How to Make the Shift to a Paperless Office

Posted by Tricia Gopi on May 14, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Technology and business have long held the promise of the paperless office. Despite the countless resources available and new software, many companies have not yet made that transition. The use of paper and physical files is still rampant among office workers and shows little signs of slowing. In an Edelman Berland Survey, 59% of companies said they would like to be more digital, yet only 2% of offices use no paper for business contracts and transactions.

Here are ways organizations can overcome challenges to going paperless.

Management Initiatives

The first step to becoming a paperless office is by creating a collective goal that is something everyone is willing to work towards. 47% of employees cite a lack of management initiatives and mandates as reason their company has refrained from going paperless. To make your goal of being paperless more effective, address compliance concerns, create alternative strategies, and initiate a discourse about the benefits of a paperless operation.

There can often be a dissonance between the goal of going paperless and the actual initiative. To create a work environment that takes to a paperless system there must be strong policies and procedures implemented that replace previous paper intensive processes. Eliminate policies that require duplicating hard copies and authorize orders and transactions digitally instead of using signatures.

Get Equipped

Getting to know the available alternatives to paper and implementing the ones that best suit your operation is the only way to effectively eliminate paper. 40% of people say that their company hasn’t transitioned away from paper because they don’t understand paper-free options.

Leverage software that takes physical paper to a digital space. ERP (enterprise resource planning) software can help with the digital transformation. ERPs enable companies to take daily processes online with the added bonus of efficiency and automation. Because an ERP connects an entire company and isn’t just department specific, it’s an effective way to get everyone on board with the paper-free initiative. Implementing a digital signature software eliminates the need for physical documents and it can reduce turnaround time for documents by 80%.

Eliminate Paper

To go paperless, at some point the paper needs to be eliminated. This doesn’t mean throwing out all the paper in the office. The average office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of paper ever year so eliminating paper is often a long process of digitizing files that exist physically and using those documents for scrap or appropriately dispose of them by shredding and recycling.

After getting rid of all the paper, offices then should reduce paper dependent technology. This means printers, scanners, photocopiers, shredders, and even filing cabinets. These items don’t have to all be thrown out because they would still have use just less frequent use. Removing paper related hardware out of the office will encourage the use of digital software and reduce the dependency on paper.

Knowledge, strategy, and collaboration are at the core of becoming a paperless office. By uniting your vision from the top and sharing it with your team it will become easier to understand how paper effects everyone’s role and facilitate your ability to create a strategy that actually works.

Topics: Advice, Sustainability, Organization, Reporting, Trends

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