Let me ask you – when was the last time you looked at a paper version of your bank statement? Can you remember the last time you signed for a parcel with pen and paper?
Although the term “paperless” has been frequently used in the world of business for a number of years, many are still in the dark about what exactly it means – and how they begin the process of ‘becoming paperless’.
This is because what seems relatively simple in theory can in fact be quite daunting in practice. It’s difficult to know where to begin, and the process of going paperless can require vast changes to traditional ways of working – as well as the culture behind them.
However, at Tiger Eye, our experts have been working in the field of Document and Email Management for 15 years. In this article, we will outline exactly what ‘going paperless’ means, how it can benefit your business – as well as the environment – and we’ll also offer a few simple tricks that you can implement within your own business, to get you started on your paperless transformation journey.
What does “paperless working” mean?
Let’s go back to basics.
A paperless office, also called a paper-free office, is a workplace that does not use paper. Simple. This means that contracts, forms and all of the essential documentation used in business are digital, stored on a computer – not in a filing cabinet.
You may have also heard of ‘paperlite’ working – a term born from the fact that many businesses accept that working exclusively without any paper at all can sometimes prove to be difficult, and it takes commitment – as well as the right tools. Therefore, many businesses adopt “paperlite” working, which simply means working with as little paper as possible.
How paperless offices work
The truth is, paperless business is all around us. Most of us carry out simple paperless transactions every day.
Ask yourself – how often do you choose to store your train tickets on your phone, instead of printing them off and creasing them up in your back pocket?
Whilst it can seem a far cry from the way many companies operate, engaging in paperless processes is now commonplace for the majority of people – whether we acknowledge it or not. Paperless working within your own business is no more than a simple step on from managing your bank statements online.
Why should I go paperless?
To save time
In any business, there are times when you need information – fast.
With the right tools, storing and managing your information in a structured way, you can access the know-how you need to streamline the way your employees work. No more hunting for scribbled notes on notepads, or post-it notes on the side of monitors. With paperless working, you can ensure that all of the information you need to produce your best work is right at your fingertips – at the click of a mouse.
Furthermore, just take a moment to consider the volume of paper used in every process of business. Consider, for example, the hours spent on printing, signing, scanning and collating HR documents, including holiday forms and sickness forms. Ask yourself – could this time be better spent elsewhere?
It’s clear that paperless working is beneficial for most every department within modern day business, offering the information you need faster than ever before.
To save money
With time saved, your team can be more efficient and more productive, meaning they can focus on your clients and pack more billable work into their days.
Better yet – with no need for paper documentation, paperless offices do not require large office resources such as filing cabinets, cupboards and more. This means that you can free up vital space within your work environment.
Furthermore, with paperless businesses no longer needing to spend valuable funds on printers, printer ink and all associated resources required to produce the mountains of documents each employee produces every day, they save a hefty sum on admin overheads.
Having your company’s documents in one centralised depository means that you can store an unlimited number of documents for a fraction of the cost of paper documentation.
To save the planet
It’s simple: by using less paper, you reduce the demand on paper manufacturing, which is great for the environment.
With no need for paper documents, you will have no need for the resources that go hand in hand with producing hard copies. This means you won’t need to rely on plastic paper clips, plastic wallets or more. This means you’re responsible for less plastic being produced and less plastic being wasted.
To stay compliant
Have you ever had to print off key client data before you go for a meeting? Have you ever experienced the heart-stopping moment when you realise that you left those documents on the train?
The fact is, more and more office worked choose to carry out ‘agile’ working, meaning they want to access their documents on their phones, on tablets and most importantly – on the move. Paper documentation is vulnerable, easily to lose and easy to abuse. Worse still, office fires, floods, and theft can all destroy your valued data – and fast. With the rise of the GDPR, you’re accountable for all of the data your business handles, so security is a must.
Paperless working ensures that your staff can access all your documentation, wherever they may be.
How do I go paperless?
There are a number of ways you can instil paperless practices in your business. For example, you can:
Use two screens
A simple step towards paperless working is to simply use two screens for your desktop office set-up.
With two screens, you can access more at the same time. Using two screens, you can easily view two documents at once, meaning you can cross-reference content, make notes and more.
Utilise digital signing software
Signatures fuel businesses. Whether you’re onboarding new clients or new employees, signatures are an essential part of business practices.
By digitising your signatures, you minimise the need to print off a whole host of documentations. Whether it’s HR documents, client proposals or authorisation for procedures, digital signing software negates the need for the traditional ‘send, print, sign, scan’ workflow, cutting down paper use to a minimum.
Adopt a Document Management system
Many employees spend valuable time every day looking for the information they need on paper documents, amidst the piles of paper crowding the office.
A Document Management System stores all of your organisation’s content in a structured, organised way, allowing you to search for and retrieve contracts, forms and more at the click of a mouse. Simply by searching for a certain word, a certain phrase, the date created, the name of the document author or more, you can find the document you need instantly, saving you – and your clients – time and money.
In conclusion, going paperless is a simple way for businesses to save money on processes, increase productivity and become more environmentally friendly. And best of all – it’s something every business can aim for.
So, what’s stopping you?
For further information please contact: Tiger Eye Consulting