A century ago the first microfilm machine was made. . If you’re not old enough to remember microfilm, it looks like an arcade cabinet, and documents appear on a projected screen – no paper required. We’ve been trying to achieve the paperless office ever since and things have changed massively.
The way we use paper has been revolutionized by digital technology. With all sorts of scanners, document-sharing options and backup software available, paper is no longer essential. But even though we still like the idea of an eco-friendly office, without piles of paper and overflowing filing cabinets, the fact is that paper documents are still needed, especially when communicating with other organizations.
The paper industry is thriving to this day. The paper salesman Dwight Shrute (a big paper fan, for obvious reasons) disagrees that ‘the future is paperless’ and would tell you this:
• Paper consumption in US offices increases by 20% per year – FALSE!
• In the average US office. one sheet of paper is used every 12 minutes – TRUE!.
• Since email was introduced, paper consumption in the office increased by 40% – TRUE!
• I am faster than 80% of all snakes.” (US EPA, Forest Ethics, NBC Universal) – TRUE!
So we’re actually using more paper, even in the digital age and with more awareness of why businesses need to go green. It doesn’t look like the paperless office is going to happen any time soon. It can only be made anything close to a reality with a firm commitment and a solid action plant. It’s easy to decide to go paperless, and the benefits are clear. You’ll have better organized documents, you’ll save money on paper and printer ink, your data will be securely backed up and you won’t have offices full of filing cabinets. What’s not to like? In fact, going paperless is harder than it seems and will test your commitment to eco-friendly business operations.
Though you’ll save in the longer term, as well as boosting your green credentials, the initial outlay is something to think about. As well as the computers themselves you’ll probably need things like scanners, an online fax and contract service, pdf editing software, a good backup solution and more. Office makeovers like this also take a whole lot of time and effort. You’ll need to train staff and set up protocols to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Shiny new equipment looks great but it won’t manage itself.
Let’s say you negotiate the initial bumps in the road successfully. Now you’ve got another decision to make. What are you doing to do with the stacks of boxes from the past, all stored in some dark and dusty room somewhere? Ideally you’ll get them all scanned and throw all the originals in the trash (or even better, recycle the paper). In reality, this might not be a practical option. If you don’t need the space, aren’t paying extra for it and you aren’t accessing the materials regularly then you might choose to leave everything as it is. You can set a ‘go-live’ date and go paperless from that day forward. It’s a new dawn and you can just ignore the dark days of mountains of paper.
If it all sounds a bit daunting, that’s because it can be a lot of work. The good news is that you can bring in a specialist to help. There are companies who specialize in dealing with the tedious work of setting up new digital systems and scanning everything. Or you could have a scanning party. Buy in some takeout food, put on some music and everyone can get scanning. Whichever route you go, draw up a timetable of things to do and dates to complete them by.
It won’t be a stroll in the park, but when you’ve made the change to the paperless office, you’re ready to celebrate. You’ve gone green (put that good news on your website) and you’re saving on stationery costs in your uncluttered new office. It was all worth it!
Or perhaps you’re still figuring out how to get the process going. If so, and you need some advice for your business, get in touch. A letter or fax is fine – or call Quikteks at (973) 882-4644 to start your eco-friendly office makeover.