Hard to believe but true: Despite the many advantages of the paperless office, we’re still a long way off from ending our love affair with paper.
For example, according to an Edelman Berland survey, even though 87% of respondents consider their office to be “mostly digital,” only 2% use no paper whatsoever in business transactions involving contracts.
Let’s back up. Why is a paperless office ideal, anyway?
Benefits of a Paperless Office
A paperless offices buys less paper and ink, and spends less on mailing, shipping, and storage of paper documents.
Leg’s face it, paper takes up space. Paper documents need to be stored, protected from fire, water, theft, and other physical threats, and organized for easy retrieval.
Digital files can be processed faster, and are also easier to archive and find. There’s no need to physically move a digital form from one person or location to another, so routing them takes place in the speed of light (or as fast as your internet connection allows).
With cloud storage and remote computer access tools, you can easily access digital documents from anywhere in the world.
A paperless office is better for the environment. Fewer trees need to be turned into paper. And you’ll create less waste.
Obstacles Towards A Paperless Office
There’s plenty to like in going paperless, so why do we continue to print things out? There are many good reasons for that:
- Change is hard, even if it’s for the better
- It’s easier to read from paper than from a screen
- Some distrust electronic files, especially contracts
- In the beginning, digitizing everything creates more work and costs
- Vendors and clients may still prefer paper forms and communicating by snail mail or fax
- The government requires paper copies of tax forms and other documents
- Employees need to learn how to use new software and equipment such as for scanning, sending and receiving electronic faxes, and digitally signing forms
Despite all those obstacles, we can still do better to use much less paper at work. Especially if you already have an intranet like Noodle in the workplace.
How to Use the Intranet to Support a Paperless Office
Instead of printing copies of documents…
Upload digital copies into a Folder Application. Tell staff members to stop printing personal copies of company policies and procedures. Instead, they can refer to the intranet to always get the most updated versions of these documents.
Even better, make these frequently used documents even more useful by using the Page Application instead of uploading PDF versions. With the Page application, you can hyperlink parts of the document to other content within the intranet and even to external websites.
Instead of using paper forms…
Transform them into e-forms. With Noodle’s Database Application, you can easily turn a paper form into an electronic form, which can be filled out, routed, approved, and archived in the intranet. As long as your intranet is properly backed up, you will never lose these forms. You will also always have a history of each form: who created, modified, viewed, and approved/disapproved it.
Instead of getting physical signatures…
Use Noodle’s approve/disapprove feature to get “signatures” on documents. Noodle intranet allows designated users to approve or disapprove files, electronic forms, and photos. This feature can take the place of physically signing these items.
We may never completely wean our offices of paper, but we can certainly use less paper, especially by making the most of our intranet.
What is your company still using paper for? How can you replace that through your intranet?