When all these executives and business gurus talk about the digital transformation, they’re not talking about some undefined point in the near future – they’re talking about the present. Different tools are available for any business, big or small, to go digital and reap the benefits of innovative new technology.
For older offices or late adopters, one of the most exciting elements of the digital revolution is going paperless. Relieving yourself of all those paper documents and records brings a whole host of benefits to your business that can tangibly improve the way you work!
The Benefits Of A Paperless Office
A paperless office, by definition, has completed the transition into a fully digital system, with no need for paper document filing or printing, except for legacy records and interacting with clients that can’t receive electronic records for one reason or another. This leads to several improvements.
You save money
With a paperless office, you greatly reduce business overhead by removing the need to maintain office printers, along with the toner, ink, and the reams of paper that they need. Without these bulky office printers, and with the reduced need for filing cabinets and other paper storage areas, you’re able to make more efficient use of your office space as well.
You can save even more money by hiring managed IT services, which can take care of your digital transformation process for you, optimizing logistics and setup while recommending the best tools and processes for the job.
You reduce clutter and use of space
Paper documents are notoriously messy – stacks of them will end up all over the place, and as the mess accumulates, it becomes more and more difficult to clean everything up. The paperless office moves all these documents to the cloud, taking up gigabytes instead of physical desk space and square feet of office space.
You save time and improve efficiency
Customer records were one of the very first things that benefited from a transition to digital databases. Rather than having to arduously leaf through paper trails and handwritten records, businesses can now call up records and correlate them to individual dates, users, and purchases in the blink of an eye.
On a larger scale, you’re now able to sift through any company documents easily if they’re all digitized. No more having to look through the headers and reports of anything you want to look at, and return it to perfect sorting order when you’re done – the paperless office does everything for you.
You improve communication
Paper memos placed on everyone’s desks, slow to process, susceptible to misplacement and with no way of verifying if anyone ever actually read them! Those days are over with business communications tools that can help improve intra-company comms and ensure that everyone gets updates instantly.
Talking to other companies is easier than ever as well, with a variety of secure messenger and email platforms that make communicating needs, orders and the like ever easier.
You open up new productivity and collaboration opportunities
With a paperless office, you get powerful productivity platforms that allow you to work together in teams on various projects, managing deadlines, workload distribution, and even collaborating in real-time. And the best part, you can even do all of these things on the go, outside the office. A paperless business provides the opportunity to perform remote work, previously very difficult with all the paperwork involved.
Your documents are safer
Paper records are vulnerable to destruction by fire, floods, and other disasters. While of course computer storage is vulnerable to the same, you have vastly more options to protect your documents if you’re paperless. Offsite drive backups of your information can ensure that you have a regularly updated copy of all your data, even if you lose your office to a disaster. In addition, you can also have your documents in the cloud, where they’re highly resistant to disasters and data loss thanks to the many redundant backups that large cloud providers have.
The benefits are clear, so what’s the process? Transitioning to paperless isn’t a fixed procedure that everyone can undertake to magically switch over from paper to digital. Despite that, we’ve prepared a few tips that can help you go paperless quickly and easily.
1. Cease production of all paper records and documents and move to the cloud.
Purchase a subscription to a large business-class cloud storage platform and start producing your records there. Ensure that all of your records are effectively filed and managed, and make sure that everyone has access to the resources they need.
Ending the physical paper trail is the first big step to going paperless. It entails a big, scary commitment, but one that will ultimately help you end the days of printouts.
A popular setup is to use Google Drive and its associated suite of business software including Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. These tools aren’t just a cloud storage solution but are also collaborative tools that can help you work smarter together. While free for home use, you should move to the higher-end business suite as soon as you can.
Another option is to use Microsoft OneDrive or Office suite. Similar to Google Drive, OneDrive allows you to create and save files and access them from any device anywhere that you have an internet connection. Microsoft Office suite gives you many ways to create documents, from standard pages to powerpoints to business templates. Keeping your record online is the first and easiest way to go paperless.
2. Start migrating existing records to digital.
A lengthy, time-consuming process – but you only have to do it once. The minute you’re done putting every customer record, transaction, and the like in your paperless office, you’ll have easy access to a treasure trove of historical data, from which you may even be able to derive insights.
Not all of this has to be done manually. There are scanners with Optical Character Recognition technology that can accurately read the text in printed documents and convert them on the fly to digitized documents.
Some tips: Have each department work with the records for which they’re responsible, to ensure that document digitization is best done by those who are intuitively acquainted with them. In addition, expired records and documents that are no longer relevant to company operations should be destroyed, not integrated into the system even for reference purposes. A paperless office can still end up cluttered if you mismanage it and fill it with useless information.
3. Eliminate outdated equipment
Taking out the trash doesn’t just mean tossing paper records – it means throwing out the copiers, printers, and fax machines that make use of them. Removing these machines from your paperless-transitioning office will not only save space but also solidify the commitment to cease production of paper.
4. Purchase business software and get training
A variety of business software suites exist for a different paperless office experience. Many of these are now subscriptions to both enterprise software solutions and cloud collaboration tools, thereby providing a one-stop shop for all your office needs. Do research on what fulfills your needs, and purchase the one that fits your budget and performance requirements.
While the paperless office is easy, reliable, and more efficient, there’s no denying that it has a learning curve. Make sure that your employees all get training for the software so that everyone can be on board as fast as possible!
One of the best and most straightforward subscriptions to get is Office 365. This subscription provides access to the Microsoft Office products that most people who’ve ever used a computer will be aware of, along with access to online versions of those products that allow for real-time collaboration. On top of that, every user gets a whole terabyte of storage space and gives the company Skype for Business as well.
Whatever your choice of software – along with hardware for your local office network – it’s a good idea to make use of IT procurement services to handle the job. These specialists have the knowledge and connections to get you the best prices for the right tools that you need.
Going Paperless is the Way of the Present
The paperless office isn’t the future of the business world – it’s the present, and it’s rapidly growing and leaving behind everyone still stuck in the past. Make the commitment to go paperless now and you’ll become more effective and efficient than ever. It’s certainly not an easy task, but the benefits of that initial monetary investment, as well as the effort you put into it, will greatly outweigh the costs.