Is the paperless office coming any time soon?
The dawn of computers and email was heralded as the beginning of the end of business-reliance on paper, but a fully electronic work reality has yet to come about. Despite the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other trusty tech sidekicks we adorn ourselves with, paper is still very much an office stalwart as we continue the battle against reams of documents in our inbox trays, printers, fax machines, et al. Will we ever see a truly paperless office? And should we even be aiming for one?
In the 1970s, speculations started to be made about a future paperless office. When businesses began to head in an electronic direction in the 80s, it seemed certain that work would become entirely digital. But in 2016, we use more paper than we did before; according to Forrester Research, we make a whopping one billion photocopies a day. What is behind our dependence on tactile documents?
The legal requirement for paper
Most companies still need printed documents to function effectively – it is simply not possible for them to cut out every ream of paper from their operations. Security concerns are also a big issue; to avoid hacking and the compromising of sensitive information, important documents tend to be stored in print form. By law, tax papers and certain other documents, such as contracts, may also need to be stored in print form.
Another obstacle to going paper-free is the expectations clients may have when it comes to invoices and receipts. Not everyone is equipped to handle trade electronically; they may lack the necessary skills or tools. In addition, some staff may need to work on hard copies to check information, design, layouts and so on – all of which can be difficult to do entirely on a screen.
Is your IT geared for a paperless office?
A further cause for pause is the need for an advanced, reliable IT set-up in the office in order to go – and stay – paper-free. This includes good hardware and software (and updates), a technician who is on hand to take care of maintenance and issues, and anti-virus and other security measures. Data needs to be clearly and carefully labelled, and regular back-ups must be performed.
The promise of a paperless office is still a dream worth pursuing
For a start, digitisation of paper-driven processes has an eco-friendly message that’s tough to dispel. Less paper means fewer trees needing to be cut down and pulped. A paper-free workspace, even if partially so, is also less cluttered, better organised and more efficient.
Working digitally makes it easier for employees to share information, even if they are miles away – facilitating the move towards another phenomenon: remote work. Cutting down on the amount of paper used also saves space – bulky storage cabinets can be jettisoned in favour of larger work or rest areas. As an added bonus, reducing paper usage lowers business overheads, saving the company money.
Recruitment’s gone digital in a big way in recent years
Recruitment is one process that has easily and effectively been digitised, with continuous advancements in job search technology. InteriMarket taps into this, using intelligent data matching to connect candidates and employment opportunities. To see how this can work for you, register for an InteriMarketaccount today.