Are the corridors of your workspace plagued with manila folders, collated stacks of documents, and endless rows of filing cabinets containing who-knows-what? Mountains of paper aren’t just a sign that your office has a hoarding problem — they’re a signal that it’s time to embrace paperless solutions. With 2019 in full swing, the new year presents the perfect opportunity to streamline the way your business accumulates documents and finally take that big leap toward becoming a paperless office.
While it may sound simple at first, having your entire office go paperless isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. Truly paperless document management requires top-down dedication, investments in new technology, and a commitment to following your new practices. But once you’ve made the switch, you won’t just be helping the environment — your office will be able to carry out business smarter, faster, and more efficiently than ever before.
Ready to cut paper out of your corporate diet? Use these helpful tips to become a paperless office:
It may sound obvious, but if you want your office to become paperless, it needs to stop using paper. Start by identifying the biggest culprits of paper usage and determine a strategy to curtail those habits. If it’s printouts and photocopies, for example, consider restricting print access or removing some of the devices in your office. If you’re worried old habits die hard and your employees might have trouble quitting paper cold turkey, that’s OK. Introduce your digital replacements gradually over time to get your workforce accustomed to their new way of doing business. Start with the most convenient and easy-to-implement transitions such as electronic document signing. Like easing into a hot tub, sometimes it’s more comfortable to inch in slowly rather than dive in head first.
Replacing paper with digital equivalents isn’t just convenient: it’s cost effective. Once you consider the costs of ink, storage, and printing equipment, the collective price of a stack of papers becomes astronomical. In fact, in a web series we did years ago, we estimated that the total cost of paper-filing in a ten-person office was about $57,000 (and that’s a very conservative figure).
On average, storing documents in filing cabinets can cost upwards of $1,400 annually, and in one study by the Association for Intelligent Information Management, the average cost of a paper form is a staggering $4.56. A simple stack of easily-digitizable files like employee records could be costing your organization a small fortune.
That doesn’t even include the human cost of wasted labor. When records aren’t available in an easily searchable database and are instead living in some drawer, your employees must take time out of their day to track down that sole copy of a file. One study found that enterprise organizations can waste up to $48,000 per week — nearly $2.5 million dollars — due to the inability to locate and retrieve information. When paper is costing you millions of dollars, it’s time to kick the habit.
Becoming a truly paperless office means eliminating paper from every hidden nook and cranny. Scavenge through your business processes to find tasks and tools that might still be tied to paper. If employees still log timesheets by hand, adopt electronic time tracking software. For accounting departments that collect receipts, scan digital copies and discard the physical.
There are some really cool, affordable solutions out there to help make your office paperless. Even something as simple as a sign that goes on a conference room can be replaced by an eco-friendly solution like Joan, an electronic e-paper solution that automatically stays up to date with your conference room schedule. Powerful office messaging apps can also help streamline the way your office communicates, increasing productivity and removing yet another printable item from your list. Move your team’s workplace communication to apps like Slack, cutting down on the need for emails altogether and fostering faster communication.
Getting rid of paper doesn’t mean getting rid of documents. But with powerful digital solutions that help organizations keep track of records, collaborate among teams, and share files, your organization will likely start wondering how it stuck with paper so long in the first place.
M-Files takes paperless document management from a pie-in-the-sky concept into the realm of possibility. M-Files is a comprehensive intelligent information management solution, as it takes digital documents to a new level with an intelligently organized, folderless solution backed up by robust automation. With lightning-fast search capabilities, sophisticated document sharing, and native digital apps that work on iOS and Android, M-Files manages your critical document tasks all but eliminating the need for paper altogether. Whether it’s capturing an electronic signature, scanning a document, or seeing if anyone else is trying to modify the same document as you, M-Files will keep your office better organized than ever before.