5 Ways to Go Paperless in Your Workplace

The term “The Paperless Office” was first used in the year 1978, so we can see it’s been an aspiration for quite a while. But thanks to impressive advancements in technology, going paperless is more feasible than ever before.

However, a lot of businesses still struggle with paper-based document management and it is impacting their productivity. Processes like purchase requisitions, employee onboarding, customer/client data entry, document approval, document sharing, and document storage are much easier when digitized – yet to some extent are still paper-based in most businesses.

If you’re reading this, perhaps you’ve envisioned your business going completely paperless or you’re looking to reduce the amount of paper-based processes that you have. And that’s fantastic – because going paperless or paper-lite is truly a game-changer.

In this article, we will cover a few basics about how your office can go paperless and show you some key steps to get you there. Let’s begin!
An employee pulling up a report on his laptop

What Does It Mean To Go Paperless or Paper-Lite?

To go paperless for a business means that the storage or communication of information is in electronic form instead of being on paper. Though the term paperless would suggest not having any paper at all, going 100% paperless is simply not feasible for a lot of businesses.

This is where the term paper-lite comes in. The paper-lite approach integrates both paper and digital to support the business’s process – and in so doing, paper consumption is reduced wherever possible.

So to put an end to the confusion of terms, some businesses say they have gone paperless when actually, they mean paper-lite. As we’ve stated earlier, 100% paperless is rarely attainable, and this is because paper still has its advantages, such as:

  • For really sensitive documents like receipts and expenses, a physical copy of those transactions provides additional backup.
  • Employees still prefer to work with paper in certain situations like submitting business proposals to other companies.
  • A wifi connection and/or power outage might cripple a completely paperless office across all processes.

So just how paperless or paper-lite should you be? That is entirely up to the needs of your business.

Why Is It Worth Considering Going Paperless or Paper-Lite?

We’ve covered in the previous section that paper has its advantages. But now, let’s talk about the benefits of going paper-lite. If you integrate paper and digital, reducing paper consumption where you can, you get to reap these benefits:

  • Digital allows for more efficient storage, tracking, and managing of documents.
  • Digitized documents are easier to locate and access so no more man-hours are spent on finding lost paper documents.
  • The increased speed and efficiency of your processes will motivate your employees.
  • You get needed backup – because when a paper document is lost or destroyed, that’s it.
  • Your business gets to save because of the reduced need for paper and ink.
  • As a bonus, it’s good for the environment!

An employee scanning a document

How To Reduce Paper & Paper Dependence

Whatever degree of going paperless you would like to achieve for your business, here are the steps you can take.

1. Review Your Paper-Based Processes

You would know your business best. A careful review of paper-based processes at the beginning will help you in spotting opportunities for going paperless. Look into your processes for purchase requisitions, employee onboarding, customer/client data entry, document approval, document sharing, and document storage

2. Regularly Purge Existing Paper Documents

Within the guidelines of your retention schedules and disposal policies, you’d want to schedule regular purging of old existing paper documents. If your business has been highly dependent on paper for a while, there’s bound to be lots of storage bins and filing cabinets to go through. But slowly, you can chip away at old collections. You can also update your policy on which among the to-be-disposed documents need to be digitized for backup.

3. Consider Electronic Forms

Having electronic forms for data entry is far more efficient than using paper forms. For one thing, nobody will need to struggle with understanding illegible handwriting and data validation can ensure the information being captured is in a valid format. E-forms can also prompt if a field is missing and prevent the incomplete form from being submitted. Definitely, the quality of data you get is improved in a faster process.

Furthermore, e-forms can also be more easily modified. So whenever you need to make changes, you won’t need to discard the whole batch of forms that are already printed.

And of course, on top of all this, you get all the paperless/paper-lite benefits.

4. Sign Documents Digitally

Though paper is preferred for business proposals and the like, you would want to consider using digital signatures on digital documents within your workplace. This kind of signature is still considered official and binding.

5. Get a System For Digital Storage, Tracking, and Managing

You’ve decided to digitize your paper documents. Is it really just a matter of scanning and saving? Is it enough to put all the digitized documents in a hard drive? Or upload them to an application that is not meant for business document management?

Well, here’s where you’ll need a Digital Document Management System (or DMS). This is an efficient, customizable, and secure system that allows you to store, track, and manage your documents without fuss. A DMS also carries other handy components that will take your business’s productivity to the next level – such as automatic metadata assignment, document data validation, and much more.

Where Can I Get Expert Help With Digital Document Management?

Integr8 is the leading provider of a full range of Managed Print Services in Canada and the United States. We can help your business set up a Digital Document Management system that will help you track, store, and manage documents digitally without hassle. You can even take it a step further and automate your repetitive document processes with our Performance-Enhancing Document Solutions.

If you have any questions about going paperless and the extent of what we can do for your business, we’d love to connect. Contact us today and let’s get started!

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