Why Do We Not Have Paperless Offices Yet?

Since affordable personal computers first appeared in our offices, we have looked forward to an all-digital future, with paper cluttered desks a thing of the past. While a paperless office is currently a very feasible concept, this ideal scenario still seems beyond the reach of many of us.

When it comes to archiving and records, most of us have made the transition quickly and easily, with others being pushed by the financial incentives. Two premium expenses in any office are space and printing services, with physical records being a huge drain on both these resources.

More importantly is the issue of security, paper records are at a greater risk of loss, theft or damage. To minimise the effect of these threats, backups have to be created. So when thinking about how big your archive has to be, you have to literally think of a number and double it.

Why Do We Not Have Paperless Offices Yet?Image credit

On paper then, the paperless option seems ideal, there are advantages in cost, safety and security. One good example is by using an online fax from UTBox which can reduce paper consumption and can help save costs on fax machine, toner and maintenance. A further benefit of long term convenience, it is much easier to find a year old document electronically than it is manually. In the short term however, issues arise which make paper a more popular option.

For making notes and drawing diagrams, the notepad is still king. Currently there is a notepad on my desk that contains; a list of things to do, an initial drawing of a design and a page of stats collected from various sources. A combination of human nature and my lack of training meant that I instinctively scribbled these notes down.

These are just scribbles though, theoretically a dry wipe board would have been just as effective. More official documents still rely on paper, for example invoice processing, requiring copies to be sent and signed by multiple parties, is still perceived as difficult to carry out digitally.

Keeping hold of paper in these areas can be a false economy though. Repeated printing, scanning, signing and mailing can severely slow down business operations, suggesting digital is the way forward. The problem with external communications like this however, is that they are only useful if everyone makes the jump. There’s no point in being the only person with a phone is there?

Alternatively, internal communications can see massive benefits from going all digital. Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer hit the headlines earlier this year when she banned employees from working from home. In a creative environment like Yahoo, collaboration and involvement are essential, everyone needs to know what is on each other’s notepads.

While this new level of participation helps the creative process, productivity in other areas takes a hit, and Mayer faced serious discontent from her employees. The right balance between collaboration and mobility needs to be established. With the right document management systems in place, Yahoo, like every other business can benefit from an all-digital future.

About Author
Joe Errington is a marketing executive for MITIE, a strategic outsourcing company who look after the facilities management of companies in the UK and abroad.

Juan is a Design & Tech Blogger with strong interest in digital art, human computer interaction, enterprise system and system automation.

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