A paperless business could be a safer business during a health crisis. Make documents and files easily accessible. File-sharing with clients and employees is easy. Electronic searches allow you to locate documents quickly from anywhere you have an internet connection. Increase security of your business data.
Benefits of going paperless
Saving the world’s trees is a noble goal, but there are many other important reasons to go paperless in your office:
Limit physical contact. Being free of paper means less interaction among coworkers, clients and customers. A paperless business could be a safer business during a health crisis.
Make documents and files easily accessible. File-sharing with clients and employees is easy. Electronic searches allow you to locate documents quickly from anywhere you have an internet connection.
Increase security of your business data. Digital documents are stored on secure off-site servers and are only accessible by authorized users.
Improve your customer service. A quick electronic document search brings up all relevant customer data, including customer orders. You’ll be able to provide more effective customer service in a timely manner.
Improve productivity of your employees. Another reason to go paperless is that employees will spend less time handling and printing documents, allowing them to focus on more important tasks.
Enable employee flexibility. As employees access needed documents through the cloud, telecommuting and working from home become a possibility. Fewer people in the office means lower energy costs, and remote employees usually work from their own computers, reducing equipment needs.
Save storage space. Medical offices and other businesses that must comply with strict regulations have to keep records for many years, which presents storage challenges. One of the great benefits of going paperless is the ability to store documents virtually, freeing up room in the office.
Protect your company from disasters. Going paperless positively affects your business disaster plan. Because virtual documents are stored off-site in secure locations, they’re safe from fire, theft and any other disasters that might strike your office.
Save on printing, paper and equipment costs. The financial importance of a paperless office cannot be overstated. Once you understand how to go paperless at work, you can save on printing costs, fax and printer equipment, pens and – of course – paper. By sending documents electronically, you save on mailing and shipping costs.
Become a sustainable business and improve your brand image. Customers who value eco-friendly approaches to business will have a better opinion of your office and your sustainable workplace practices. And technologically savvy customers will appreciate the efficiency of paperless customer service.
Challenges and disadvantages of going paperless
Going paperless is not without its challenges. As with any business decision, you must also consider the potential disadvantages of a paperless workplace.
Increased upfront costs. The benefits of going paperless include reduced operating costs, but these may not be worth the expense of new electronic equipment, installation fees and the costs of paperless document storage.
Possibility of cyberattacks. Even if your critical business data is safer in the cloud than sitting in a file cabinet, cloud-based documents are still at risk of cyberattacks and information breaches that could put sensitive information at risk. To reduce that risk, store copies of your documentation on an external hard drive as well as in the cloud. And grant users online access to the individual documents they need, not the entire collection.
Upgrading office equipment. Despite the many ways to go paperless, most offices still need a printer or copier. Older models may need replacing with newer models as part of your digital transformation and accompanying energy conservation efforts, which can be expensive. Not replacing older and energy-hungry equipment may offset any savings from your paperless-office strategies.
Issues with compatibility. Just because you’ve already transitioned into a paperless company doesn’t mean all your business contacts have. This can lead to communication problems and a need to use paper in business-to-business dealings.
Possible customer reluctance. While many people are quick to embrace paperless technology, some customers still prefer to receive paper statements. Before committing to a paperless system, be sure your customers are willing to accept online documents rather than hard copies.
Become more efficient by going paperless
Only you know whether your small business and customers are ready for a paperless workplace. Perhaps the upfront costs and work needed exceed any benefits you’d see. And paperless businesses face their own challenges; no system is perfect. But for businesses that want a more efficient and secure method of documentation, a paperless-office strategy is ideal. And now that you know how to go paperless, if that’s your choice, you have several ideas for where to start.