For decades now, paper billing and filing cabinets have been the norm for information documentation, organization, transmission, and storage.
Even to this day, you’ll find a similar situation in many offices, corporate, and business environments.
As the world continues to advance further in the computer age, the paper-colored ecosystem is starting to elapse and lose its mainstream relevance. With the innovative paperless office framework pioneering the digital transformation of organizations and businesses in the evolving electronic age.
The innovative catalyst that underpins the paperless office concept is digitalization.
Just because everyone is used to the old, archaic way of dealing with things doesn’t mean it’s the best option.
The paperless office is the first step in your company's digital transition, it essentially refers to a radical upgrade to your organizational processes that will see the intentional removal of paper from said processes to boost process efficiency.
What this means for you and your company is that all your paper-based information will be converted to electronic form. Manual processes in your business framework will be automated and a significant boost in the relevance of your enterprise via the remote accessibility feature that the futuristic concept offers.
Wondering what are some changes you can make starting today to go paperless in your company?
To help you in your paperless journey, here’s what we’ll cover:
- Why Go Paperless: An Overview
- What A Paperless Office Can Look Like In Practice (Examples)
- 5 Practical Changes To Change Into A Paperless Business
Why Go Paperless: An Overview
Bloomberg Businessweek’s 1975 concept of a paperless office is now possible with the advent of the computer age.
The concept’s implementation has now spearheaded a trend that is gaining significant momentum daily on a global scale. A trend that will soon snowball into an era-defining set-up that will push traditional paper billing and filing cabinets out of relevance.
If you’re wondering what a paperless office looks like in practice, we’ll cover that below in more detail. So, keep on reading.
Until then, some reasons that might inspire you to go paperless may include:
- Environmental reasons.
- Higher efficiency and productivity.
- Faster Communication.
- Reduced operational costs.
- Improved security and compliance.
Now, let’s take a look at each in detail.
As you might already know, the production of paper uses wood and trees in order to manufacture paper. Reduced paper printing means reduced felling of trees and the gradual elimination of deforestation globally.
About 26% of waste and landfills globally are comprised of paper waste. So when your company or business goes paperless, you’re not only helping your company, but also the environment.
The world is now shifting towards greener practices as the eco-friendly prospect of going paperless leads the charge. This notion is now popular and can be an incentive for your employees to embrace change.
In essence, going paperless will reduce your forest footprint, cut energy, and help combat the impact of deforestation and waste degradation on climate change.
But aside from the environmental benefits, your company will greatly benefit from it as well.
The major technology that fuels the paperless office is electronic digitalization.
All your documents, memos, minutes, invoices, forms, and so on become digital.
The new digital documents are now easier to manage, transfer, store and retrieve compared to their paper-based counterparts. The concept of a paperless office boasts a significantly higher level of efficiency than the traditional paper-based system.
According to statistics from research, approximately 46% of small-medium businesses (SMBs) waste significant time daily on paper-intensive processes.
The time that could otherwise be invested in other productive activities or even for proper rest.
Worldwide document accessibility that the paperless office affords will improve your workplace productivity and facilitate a comprehensive upgrade in your customers’ experience, one that will give you the edge needed to compete healthily in the modern business world.
Except in specific scenarios like a lawsuit, an insurance claim, or a premium delivery service, the transfer of information via paper documents for communication purposes from one place to another is always slow.
Moreover, the slow communication speed that the traditional system affords doesn’t guarantee successful transference of your documents, as your paper documents might experience unavoidable delays, misplacement, and even a complete loss.
Automated document generation takes out the part of human error completely.
Once your files and documents are digitized, instant availability is assured.
Lightning speed execution and information delivery fueled by near-instantaneous communication speed are guaranteed since all your company’s processes are now globally presentable and accessible through the world wide web.
With a proper electronic document management system in place, you can instantly create standardized documents from customer data and then deliver them to the right end-user.
Which brings us to our next point.
Reduced operational costs
The digitization of your company’s internal paper-based system can help cut operational costs across several media.
The cost reduction feature of the paperless office showcases its advantage in the elimination of redundant costs required for offline paper storage, document duplication, printing, as well as the purchase of paper itself.
Once your company’s work process is digitized, the resulting automation of workflow fueled by paperless processes can be streamlined and optimized to save money.
With the costs of data security management and recovery cut down to the barest minimum having zero effect on your business continuity.
The security of organizational data is crucial to the success or failure of any company or enterprise.
Lax security of proprietary info and data means that you are at risk of losing business and operations-critical information which can result in a partial or total collapse of your organization.
However, the cutting-edge encryption and proprietary control tech that the digitization of your system affords will ensure that you are completely protected, since you are in complete control of the diffusion and accessibility of your proprietary documents.
Adoption of digital systems and reduction of company paper trail will enable you and your employees to work efficiently in a safe and secure environment. From your computer to a safe document management system online.
Beyond the general advantages of going paperless, there are specific benefits to going paperless and removing paper from your workflow as soon as possible.
Check out some other reasons to go paperless for more info and examples.
What A Paperless Office Can Look Like In Practice (Examples)
With the proper infrastructure for a paperless office, the operations essentially get replaced with digitized tools of their paper counterparts.
The organizational workflow that used paper and hardcopies instead will use PDFs and project management apps.
A paperless office incorporates various software applications to network into a comprehensive self-sustaining ecosystem that will require paper input in only crucial, paper-mandatory processes. The software applications that underpin the paperless office innovation range from the simplest note-taking applications to the more advanced project management applications.
These software apps work hand-in-hand to deliver a completely digitized workflow starting from the receptionist’s office up to the management’s office while maintaining a balance between paper and digital for businesses.
For example, here’s what a hypothetical process might look like for a paperless office, in terms of its operations and workflow:
- Visitors are logged in virtually using visitors management systems like a cloud-based visitor management system (VMS),
- Meeting notes are taken through note-taking system apps like Google Keep, Microsoft, Evernote, and so on. Then, they are instantly shared after the meeting, with full eligibility.
- Intracompany communications (memos, reports, and announcements) are achieved via cloud sharing and instant messaging apps like Slack.
- Project management and task implementation are achieved through relevant software applications like Asana, Notion, ClickUp, and so on. Company messages are sent through emails or instant communication, instead of letters.
- Payment is handled via cloud invoicing tools like Zoho Invoice, FreshBooks, Wave, and so on. Electronic invoices are rendered automatically, based on the client’s info and dynamic template.
- Sensitive information is collated via online faxing services like eFax, HelloFax, and so on.
- And more.
Essentially, all paper-related organizational tasks get replaced with the right digital software.
This presents a peek into the paperless world. These software applications and their resultant framework can be tweaked based on your preference and utility to drive the digitization of your company to your taste.
5 Practical Changes To Change Into A Paperless Business
Now that you’ve gained an overview of how paperless billing works and why it’s so important, let’s take a more practical look at switching to paperless billing.
Once you are on board with the concept of a paperless office and you are ready to launch, here are 5 practical changes you can implement to go paperless:
- Adapt proper management and initiative strategies.
- Cultivate a paperless leadership style.
- Create a comprehensive file organization system.
- Adopt digitization software and train employees accordingly.
- Update your company policy to let everyone know about your plans to go paperless.
Here's what you need to know about each tactic when going paperless.
1. Proper management and paperless initiative strategies
Going paperless starts with the right initiative strategy.
Every management mandate, initiative, and reform you push on your employees will bring you closer to a paperless future.
To start with, you can change your management structure to include a paperless vision.
Set short and long-term goals for each department in your company, and establish paperless KPIs that must be achieved by the company. Therefore, the number one change to implement in your business or enterprise is the development and enforcement of paperless inclusive company mandates and initiatives.
Paperless KPIs may include:
- Total monthly spend (printing, payroll, subscriptions, etc).
- Cycle time.
- Gross profit margin.
- Revenue per employee.
- Employee satisfaction.
- Total project errors.
2. Cultivate a paperless leadership style
The example that your leadership sets will be a model representation of your organizational paperless mandate.
That is to say, lead by example and others will join.
Let the model of operations change start from you.
For example, if you previously owned a filing cabinet of paper documents, you can start with the conversion of your offline files to relevant electronic formats.
Set personal goals for yourself and actively strive to meet your target goals as your actions speak much louder than any actionless mandate or initiative. In essence, be the change you want to implement.
3. Create a comprehensive file organization system
A paperless company KPI and mission mandate are already in place, you’ve gotten your team and staff to play ball and they are all on board with the transition into a paperless office. It’s now time for the hard part-changing your offline documents to relevant electronic file formats for upload into the cloud.
However, before you commence offline document conversion and cloud scanning, you and your paperless team should develop and implement a comprehensive file organization setup. This way, you can facilitate the electronic conversion of your numerous offline documents. Brainstorm with your team to develop a file organization system that works for your company, then launch the developed system across your company and let everyone know how the system works.
For example, if you often create standardized documents from client information, you can fully automate it. And the next time you want to create a form with unique information, you can use document generation for this.
Though people are usually resistant to change, once they see the efficiency of the new system, they should have an easier time adapting.
4. Adopt digitization software and train employees
Your company's transition from offline paper billing to paperless billing has to be leveraged on the right electronic document management system.
What you want to do is map out workflow and replace them with suitable digital tools.
You already know what a paperless office might look like, modify that concept in to match your business setup.
Mirroring that model, you can then identify and list out the necessary tools that your business needs in a paperless environment.
These software applications are the backbone of your digitization transition.
Work on your list, acquire the necessary software, beta test the software applications with a few of your employees to understand them better, then finally you can adopt and integrate these digital tools and software in your office.
After you have your tools and software in place, you need to train your employees on the best way to use these digital tools. You can develop and select the best training regime that fits your taste. The most important thing is that all employees who handle the bulk of your paper(files and document storage) need to use relevant cloud services and can do so digitally and confidently.
5. Update company policy
You have already implemented numerous changes and reforms that have comprehensively transformed your work environment into a fully digitized paperless eco-space.
However, the digitization journey doesn’t end there, you now have to inform your clientele base of your new transition and how it might affect them.
You might want to change your company policy to let your clients know how they can also adopt certain paperless tools in order to work with you more efficiently.
This will help keep your company’s paperless system consistent and efficient without any need for backtracking to paper billing to accommodate your client base.
Hope this guide to going paperless was helpful!
By implementing the changes suggested above, you can efficiently transform your paper-focused business into a more streamlined and productive ecosystem to drive up your business productivity and efficiency.
Just because many companies still follow the paper-based model doesn’t mean it’s the best available option.
A paperless office has a huge eco-friendly benefit to it.
But the benefits don’t stop there.
Simply going paperless will be saving you time, money, and make you more productive in the long run.
So, if not for the environment’s sake, going paperless can help boost your overall operational goals and KPIs.
Though, going paperless is not a simple, one-day project.
If you’d like to kickstart your paperless journey and you’re not sure where to start, we recommend approaching it based on your document requirements and your industry standards.
Depending on your industry, this might be somewhat harder or easier.
However, as a starting point, we recommend reading up on how automated PDF generation and automation works. There, you'll find how document automation can help with going paperless, what companies need it the most, how to implement such software in your company, and more!