There’s little doubt that as organisations worldwide increasingly adopt a strategy of digitalisation, the move away from paper is only likely to increase. It’s not just for environmental reasons either – although those are still perfectly legitimate. The reality is simply that digital documentation has become more efficient than physical.
While the idea of a paperless office is one that has been discussed for many years, recent moves from large stakeholders are likely to speed the transition away from traditional document management. For example, late in 2015 Microsoft announced a joint initiative with online transaction management service DocuSign to implement digital signatures into its popular cloud-based Office 365.
It’s one more step towards a fully digital office environment, further removing the need for physical documentation and reducing the paper footprint of many workplaces. Does an agreement such as this indicate that the era of paper is truly coming to an end?
The case for going paperless
Now that the idea of going paperless is theoretically possible, many businesses may like to consider the potential benefits of the strategy within their own operations. Some of the key benefits of reducing or removing paper use include:
- Ongoing costs. While the initial cost of transitioning to a digital document solution may be expensive – due to updating devices and computer equipment, for example – any ongoing costs beyond that can be significantly reduced. Imagine the savings from never needing to replace paper and ink supplies again.
- Environmental concerns. According to The Paperless Project, the average office worker still uses approximately 10,000 sheets of paper every year in the course of their regular workflow. If every person could reduce their consumption by even half, that has the potential to save a lot of trees.
- Document storage. Obviously an individual sheet of paper doesn’t take a lot of space in your office, however if you take the above statistic and apply that to an office of just 10 people, that’s 100,000 sheets of paper in a year. Storing that much paper, let alone in a place where it can be easily accessed, can naturally create a huge problem.
These are just three of the most obvious reasons for moving to a paperless solution – each individual office will possibly find their own unique benefits.
The case for sticking with paper
As much as a totally paperless office seems like the natural progression for Australian workplaces, in reality a lot of elements have to come together perfectly for digital documentation to completely take over. One of the beauties of traditional pen and paper communication is its immediate accessibility – for leaving notes for colleagues or quickly editing written documents, for instance.
Digitally replicating the ease and flexibility of paper we have become accustomed to would likely require deployment of devices on a massive scale, beyond the means of most workplaces. Writing for Wired magazine, Greg Milliken advocates for a “paper-light” strategy, one which reduces the volumes being used but still keeping the systems and devices for traditional documentation on hand for occasions where they still make the most sense.
Modern multifunctions – the best of both worlds
Thankfully, the decision regarding paper usage in your office doesn’t have to fall completely one way or the other. Modern multifunction devices feature both traditional printing and copying functions, as well as more modern tools such as scanning to PDF or conversion to Microsoft Office file types.
Reducing your organisation’s paper footprint is something that should be investigated now, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice proven ways of working. Contact our Fuji Xerox team about how you can embrace the future without compromise.