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Should Your Office Aim for Paperless or Just Less Paper?

Until the digital age, paper documents stored in file cabinets were the primary way to organize information. As digital documents started to become a safe and efficient alternative to physical paper, the idea of becoming paperless seemed like a future reality. In 1975, Businessweek predicted paper would be obsolete by 1990 as computers started becoming prominent in homes and offices. Fast forward to 2023, and we are producing more paper than ever before. In response, some businesses have tried to embrace a paperless office, or at least an office that uses less paper.

What Is Paperless?

A paperless office refers to a workplace where paper usage is minimized or eliminated using digital systems. Some may think the ultimate goal is to eliminate paper completely, however most businesses will still need to use some paper. For businesses wanting to make a change to their paper consumption, there’s been an ongoing struggle over which to embrace.

The Reality

History has shown that regardless of how tech savvy your business is, there will always be a need for paper. The predicted drop in paper use almost 50 years ago didn’t happen, so there is still a long way to go to reduce our dependency on paper. Here are some factors that affect the move to a paperless or less-paper workplace.

1. Behavior Shift

Striving for a paperless office will require a behavior shift that may go far beyond just your internal systems and staff. You might interact with companies that haven’t yet gone paperless, which means you’ll need to print out contracts requiring a physical signature, or provide paper marketing materials or press packs for an event or conference. Changing the behavior of your own staff members will be a significant challenge but taking that beyond your own business walls may even more difficult.

2. Record Keeping

Research has shown that as businesses are trying to reduce paper use, more than half of their managers report they struggle to function without paper. Creating a paper trail is an important practice for an organization that creates, stores, and uses personally identifiable information and a key part of completing a chain of custody process. Even though auditors accept digital copies of financial receipts and documents, a physical copy of those transactions offers a safeguard in the event digital files are damaged or unattainable. In some cases, a physical paper document is still mandatory where a digital cannot act as a substitute.

3. Reduced Paper

Any business that decides to go 100% paperless will likely face a huge challenge in getting their management team and staff members on board. It may be more realistic and beneficial to work towards a less-paper environment. Incorporating a less-paper plan will still:

  • Reduce Cost: The decision to decrease paper consumption will reduce the expenses of paper, printing, copying, as well as printer ink and cartridges. While you won’t be able to eliminate the cost of these items, you can significantly decrease the expense.
  • Allow your Company to Benefit from Digital Systems: The use of digital systems and processes is a great way to reduce your paper use when communicating and sharing files. Plus, paper and digital systems combined act as compatible backups for each other. There are times when a paper document will work better than a digital document and vice versa. Stored paper files can still be available 24/7 when using a business that offers scan-on-demand services.
  • Help the Environment: Any decrease in the amount of paper your business uses will reduce the need for trees to replenish the demand. This is a great way to encourage your staff members to find other supportive ways to reduce and protect the earth.
  • Protect the Planet: When you partner with a professional shredding company that recycles 100% of your discarded paper, your shredded documents will stay out of landfills and be recycled into new paper products.

Either way, the decision to move toward a completely paperless environment or simply an office that uses less paper are both great decisions. When using the services of a reputable shredding company, a less-paper approach might be more realistic and achievable, while at the same time reducing your costs and protecting the environment.

Records Management Center prides itself on sending 100% of its shredded paper to be recycled. We are here to help your business be more efficient and protect the planet. Call us at 706-724-7982 or complete the form on this page, and we’ll work together to help your business successfully accomplish both.