When you run a business, one thing may seem inevitable – piles of paper.
Yet with recent increases in computer power, web apps and consumer products, the dream of an entirely paperless office is closer now than it has ever been.
The idea of the paperless philosophy – an office where information is stored and managed electronically instead of on paper –first became popular in the mid 1980s, as computers started to become an integral part of the business landscape. Ironically, the invention of the computer lead to more paper documents, rather than less.
However, as businesses have started to embrace cloud computing and other electronic storage services over the last five years, the possibility of a truly paperless office is just within reach.
Benefits of Adopting a Paperless Office
A paperless philosophy has obvious positive environmental impacts, but it also has benefits that affect the overall performance of a business, including:
Ease of Storage
Many document management systems give you the ability to manage and share electronic documents with anytime, anywhere access, as long as you are connected to the internet. You are also able to securely share access with multiple users by granting permission to specific files or folders.
The search functions on many of today’s document management systems are very advanced, and allow you to track files via notes, tags, and folders. This makes searching for an old file a breeze, as all you need to do is fill out your search query.
The majority of electronic document management systems use the same security features as online banking applications, including 256-SSL encryption, administrative controls, and daily backups to various servers. It’s important to check the document management’s security functions before you decide on a specific system.
How to Cut Out the Paper
While a 100% paperless office may not yet be a reality for most businesses, there are many tools available today that can help you work toward the paperless philosophy. Whether it’s storing and managing files, paying bills, sending receipts, or presenting to large groups of stakeholders, there are ways around paper. Simple ways to start cutting back on paper include:
1. Storage and File Sharing
Many document management systems allow you to easily store large files, while giving you the ability to manage and share information with other users. Whether it is a receipt, statement, proposal, or project; upload it to your document management system where it can be securely accessed anytime, anywhere.
2. Paperless Statements and Bill Paying
Running your business’ finances online allows for prompt payments that are much easier to track. Many banks offer paperless statements, and sometimes even provide incentives for customers that manage their accounts online. By receiving and sending payments online, you are able to cut down on the time you coordinating invoices, cheques, and mailings. You also cut down on the time you spend at the local bank!
3. Meeting and Presentations
Many times, hard-copy information can make or break a presentation. Luckily, there are many applications that allow for you to cut down on paper, while showing your stakeholders what they need to know. Remote screen-sharing applications offer the ability to screen-share with multiple computers and tablets during a presentation. This in essence, allows you to hijack their computer (with permission!) and display the necessary information that you need to get across.
As you can see, there are many ways to cut down on paper in the office. Thanks to these emerging technologies, we’re able to focus on the paperless office business philosophy more than ever, and cut down our workloads while helping to create a sustainable environment (if not just a little!). Not only does going paperless decrease clutter from your office, but it also saves time and money, while giving you the ability to add some green into your PR.