The Paperless Office: you may have heard about it, or you may be trying to integrate it into your office already. Today’s digital age reduces the need for paper documents in the office. Hard copies take up space, and using paper is not always eco-friendly. How viable is it to have a paperless office though?
Paperless or paper LESS?
A common misconception of this system is that every last bit of paper must go. However, many businesses find it much easier to keep a small amount of paper documents in storage while moving the bulk over to digital storage. This is useful if your line of work deals with a lot of official documents, for example.
Going paperless also reduces space requirements, allowing businesses to put that storage space to more productive use. However, storage is still a vital part of business, and while most of it is transferred to digital storage, eliminating it completely is not recommended. There will always be some physical documents that need storage, even if it’s a daily roster to be signed by employees, or timetables, worksheets or calendars that get used frequently.
Types of paperless storage
- Local/internal server storage
This is the base level of storage, one which you already use every time you save a document on your computer. It could be on an individual basis, where every employee saves their information to their individual computers and devices, but most businesses are connected to an internal server that links all computers together. This makes it much easier to transfer information between colleagues or departments.
- Cloud storage
These are secure online servers that store your information and documents on the web, with the bonus that you can access your files from any device anywhere in the world. They are necessarily very security-orientated and their accessibility and low risk of information loss make them the preferred choice for many. Examples include Dropbox, Google Drive and Box.com.
- Paperless hardcopies
There are other methods of storage other than paper documents or digital. Information can also be saved to discs and filed in a storage cabinet. While this does not reduce the amount of physical space being used, you are reducing the use of paper. External harddrives are great for large amounts of data, but some offices still prefer the smaller options of CDs, DVDs or USB drives. They are more compact than lever arch files and other folders, and can store different types of documents together that one would normally have to store separately.
- An integration approach
Sometimes going digital can be overwhelming, especially for large companies that generate huge piles of documents. While computers and online storage services do have excellent document management systems that you can use to easily search for particular titles or keywords, some offices prefer a physical index or reference list to use as well. This way, you can quickly open the relevant filing cabinet to find the index number or reference code for a particular document, note which section it’s filed under, and more easily access the digital copy using that number or code.
Storing paper documents
Even though paperless offices are becoming more and more popular, there are still times when paper copies are beneficial. Here are some reasons why paper documents still exist:
- Government requirements (governments often require certified copies or original documents instead of copies)
- Legal necessity (official documents and contracts often need to have the physical signature of involved parties to be considered legitimate)
- Permanence and convenience
- Old habits die hard
Going paper LESS
Paperless offices are, in general, more convenient, more spacious and more environmentally friendly. Using digital storage instead of physical storage has so many advantages. Your documents are more secure, as they cannot be physically lost or destroyed. There is a risk of corrupt digital files but the backups and failsafes in place in most computer programmes reduce this risk to almost zero. Digital storage is also convenient when you move premises or expand your business to additional offices, even across the country or overseas. This is because the information is accessible from anywhere. It can also improve organisation and filing mechanisms, as digital resources can be cross-referenced and search functions are more advanced than manual methods. For example, if you have video footage as supporting documentation for a paper document, you can store both the video and the written document in one online folder, making it more accessible, or if one document falls under more than one category it can easily be accessed via each category.
Convert to a paperless, or a “paper less” office today and see the astounding difference it makes for yourself. Your employees will enjoy the ease of access and increase in productivity it affords. For the best office storage solutions for your office, consult one of our office planning specialists.