What to consider when transitioning to a paperless office

07 Dec 2021

As organisations continue to embrace automation and the benefits of digital transformation, many traditional business practices are fast becoming obsolete. This includes the use of paper documents within office settings.

There are several key arguments that organisations have for transitioning to a paperless office. Just some of these include:

  • Increases efficiency
    Digital documents can be easier to find and index than physical copies, reducing the time spent retrieving these files. For fast-paced work environments, this time saved can be invaluable. 

  • Encourages collaboration
    The introduction of automation and the cloud into business settings lets staff share live documents seamlessly across the organisation, minimising the need for printed copies and optimising workflow.

  • Increases security
    Digital files can be secured with passwords and access rights so that they are only available to those with the correct viewing authority. This lets workers track and monitor changes and reduces the risk of information theft.

  • Environmental and cost savings
    Not only does reducing printing assist with lowering an organisation’s carbon footprint, but associated costs for filing and machine maintenance can also be reduced as part of day-to-day expenses.

Despite these benefits, organisations have learnt that digitising a process does not necessarily happen overnight. There are numerous key factors to consider when deciding if digitalising a document or process is the correct business strategy:

  • Humans are creatures of habit
    Human beings are often attached to what we know, and paper has become synonymous with many daily office practices. Staff members may therefore be slow to fully transition away from paper-based documents and workflows. As they do so, they may be careless with file naming, resulting in a cluttered digital filing system that slows down the office workflow. With the right digital solution in place, employees can quickly use digital solutions to reduce their workload, with compliant records management processes ensuring files are named and stored correctly.

  • Legal considerations
    Even with the ability to provide electronic signatures becoming a business norm, many organisations still look to satisfy legal contracts with physical or ‘wet’ signatures. However, in the vast majority of cases, electronic signatures are now accepted, and digitalising contract management workflows can save a considerable amount of time. It can also reduce the instances of missed contract renewals, for example, if the digital system includes automated reminders that contracts are due to be re-signed.

  • Lack of trust
    Despite our dependence on technology, many users continue to harbour distrust towards automation and the safety of files in the cloud. This fear-based approach can make staff members more likely to print out documents that contain important or sensitive information for their peace of mind. However, the reality is that documents are often more secure in the cloud, protected by password access.

  • Lack of digital infrastructure
    Although digital transformations are occurring every day, many organisations still use legacy systems that are yet to be updated for a modern office setting. It can be costly to upgrade existing systems and some organisations may take years to properly transition to a fully digitalised environment. Taking a slower approach can be beneficial because it gives people time to get used to the changes and to realise the benefits of moving to a paperless environment.

When it comes to making the decision to go paperless, organisations should look to start digitising processes one element at a time. A gradual transformation can be a more budget-friendly option and will let staff members acclimatise to the new programs being implemented. Businesses should also look to have a robust change management system in place to upskill and train staff to feel confident in a completely digital environment.

To find out if a paperless office is right for you, contact the team at Konica Minolta today.


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