Back in 1975 it was predicted that paper would be on its way out by 1980 and nearly dead by 1990, but it is still being used in vast quantities in our offices. While more and more is being done digitally, it seems we are still attached to hard copies of data and documentation that we can see and hold.
Email and text messaging is becoming the preferred form of communication, but does anything beat the impact of a glossy printed leaflet or poster from sticking in your mind? Toner Giant, which supplies top name brands such as HP toner, says that the power of print is still strong. So are paperless offices really achievable? Let’s look at the pros and cons:
Time-saving: Keeping records digitally in one place means hours saved that could otherwise be spent sifting through files, locating hard copies of receipts and invoices.
Accessibility: Security settings can be enabled so that a number of authorised users can view the same document and make edits where necessary.
Less waste: According to figures from the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI), Britain used nine million tonnes of paper in 2015. Going paperless could cut that amount down considerably.
Space creation: A paperless office would remove the need for endless shelves of folders and filing cabinets crammed with paper, creating a neater and tidier office.
Smoother customer service: Receipts, bookings and documents can be emailed out to clients at the click of a button, saving on postage, printing costs and time.
Loss of impact: While companies now email, rather than post out information to customers, that can mean marketing has less of an impact. It’s now more about hashtags and social media campaigns but as your customer’s inbox fills up it’s easier for them to hit the delete button, rather than read what you have to say. A leaflet or flyer that arrives through the post is more likely to stay in their mind, as a visual reminder of your business.
Security: There is always a chance that paper documents can fall into the wrong hands but if everything is stored digitally and you become a victim of a hack then the loss of information could come at a big cost to your business. Ensure you are complying with all data protection laws to protect your information and that of others.
Technology upgrades: You will need to ensure your computer hardware and software is fully up-to-date and may need to be upgraded to be able to store your information digitally and process invoices and receipts automatically. This will cost money and could also mean employing an IT technician if you don’t already have one in place, plus the cost of training staff to use the systems.
Safety: No matter how much you back up your information digitally, can you really be sure it is going to remain safe? In a report by the BBC programme ‘Click’ in 2012 Ben Sanderson from the British Library was quoted as saying: “It’s quite difficult to burn hundreds of thousands of books. If you stand on a CD, you can achieve the same thing.” While more information is stored on hard drives and memory sticks now or uploaded to the ‘Cloud’ is that still safer than keeping things on printed paper?
Regardless of the pros and cons, paperless offices seem to be the way the world is going. Those in the industry predict that it will happen and is achievable, as those who grew up with digital photos and smartphones take over senior positions in companies.