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Why there has never been a better time to go paperless
Tue, 3rd Aug 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The idea of a truly ‘paperless office' has been talked about for many years, but few organisations have actually adopted the concept and eliminated paper for good. While recent research has revealed that printing and scanning have decreased significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 56% of workers are still printing, and 50% are still scanning, even while working from home. However, this way of working simply is not sustainable in a remote work world.

The need for digital transformation has never been more evident. Though many companies have accelerated their digital initiatives, many gaps persist, particularly in document productivity. In fact, it is estimated that 83% of workers believe that the way their company manages documents has not improved significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost everyone (95%) sees room for improvement on this front.

Weaning a business off paper will certainly not happen overnight, but it can be done. If there is still some hesitation, here are three of the top reasons to start making the transition to paperless.

Increased productivity and efficiency

Paper creates a ton of workflow bottlenecks and inefficiencies. Employees waste over four hours virtually every single week completing paper-based tasks. With paperless workflows, they don't have to spend extra time pushing paper, chasing down signatures, and filling out forms. These tasks are easier and faster when they are accomplished digitally, leaving time for more important work to get done.

Paper-based processes also have limitations. For example, it is virtually impossible to have more than one person working on the same hard copy document and effectively keep track of various edits. So then, how can remote employees be expected to work together efficiently? When you remove paper from the equation and adopt a digital document productivity solution, teams can easily create, share, edit, track versions, sign, and file — all without printing or scanning a single page.

Implementing a new tool won't come without its challenges, though. It is vital to have a solid change management strategy and training plan to drive employee buy-in and adoption. 

Cost savings

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that the average knowledge worker uses over 10,000 sheets of paper per year, which comes out to about two cases of paper per worker. With every case costing $40 (or more), it is easy to see how much things can add up.

If that was not enough, PwC recently found that the average company spends $20 in labour to file paper, $120 searching for a missing document, and $220 to recreate a lost document. That means companies with 1,000 employees are spending $3.5 million annually on issues created by paper.

If the company's budget is strained, especially by the impact of the pandemic, cutting out paper is one of the fastest and easiest ways to save significantly.

Environmental sustainability
There is a direct correlation between the levels of paper still used in the workplace and the impact on the environment. For instance, it takes 11,134 kilowatt-hours (kWh) to produce one ton of paper — that is the same amount of electricity an average household uses in over 10 months.

In addition, the ink and toner cartridges used for printing are horrible for the environment if they aren't disposed of properly. It is estimated that more than 400 million ink and 100 million toner cartridges end up in landfills every year.

Organisations should focus on minimising printing at every opportunity possible, whether that is taking away some of the printers in an office or switching to a document productivity solution. By eliminating or reducing paper usage, businesses can legitimately position themselves as “green” while also preserving the environment for our future generations.

Going paperless is no longer something organisations can just push off until they ‘feel ready.' Our working world has completely changed, and now is the ideal time for businesses to adapt. The only thing preventing the long-overdue move to paperless is collective will.