Are Companies Succeeding at Going Paperless?
By Mike Raia Posted July 29, 2019
For years now we have seen a push for companies to use cloud services in an effort to become entirely paperless operations. The reasons reducing paper consumption are well known: reducing carbon footprints, streamlining processes, cutting costs, eliminating manual work, etc. and the topic of "going paperless" has run the gamut of media outlets. However, there is one question that hasn't been asked.
How Much Paper Are We Still Using?
According to a Xerox study, 80 percent of companies want to create paperless processes and workflows. Unfortunately, the Sierra Club coupled with Reduce.org, are quick to point out that the average office employee still uses an unprecedented 10,000 sheets of paper per year. 10,000 sheets of paper are equivalent to one tree and in many cases costs an estimated $725 USD. It is important to note that the 10,000 sheets don't account for notebooks, envelopes, and other office supplies. Plus, according to RecordNations.com, 45% of that paper winds up in the trash.
Based on these numbers, it's safe to say companies are still relying too much on paper and ink.
With this in mind, the good news is that cloud-based technologies and digital innovations are making it easier for companies to succeed in the push to go paperless.
What Paperless Efforts Show Promise?
Digital Innovations Have Helped Companies Reduce the Influx of Mail
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sheets of paper and paper-based products account for the largest percentage of all items that end up in landfills. The amount of paper waste that is generated in an office is not only detrimental to the environment, but it also hurts the bottom line. The good news is that there are several digital innovations that can help companies reduce the influx of unnecessary paper products, such as hardcopy mail.
The simple "opt-out of paper" feature is often left on for mail subscriptions, bills, bank statements, and invoices. Companies that are successful at reducing the influx of mail, and subsequently creating a smaller ecological footprint, are quick to opt for emailed statements. Reducing the amount of mail also eliminates the time wasted sorting through important and junk mail. Finally, it creates an additional layer of security for companies of all sizes by reducing the likelihood that a vital document will be lost, stolen, or disposed of without being properly shredded.
Cloud-Based Documents and Workflow Rapidly Increasing
Cloud-based document and workflow systems are the most commonly-used and rapidly-adopted tools used to create a paperless environment. Cloud-based solutions that manage the creation, storage, and flow of information are secure and can be accessed by both in-house and remote employees, as needed. Additionally, these systems can create an improved customer experience by reducing the time from question to answer. Employees can access information and respond directly via the phone, email, social channels, or online chat. The ability for employees to provide rapid and accurate responses creates the foundation for trust and increased brand loyalty as customers grow increasingly confident in the company.
Increased Employee Productivity Through Workflow Automation
According to ImageOne, an estimated 25 percent of all technology help desk calls are about an in-office printer? Companies that rely on paper, and by association printers, waste countless hours calling help desks to sort through paper jams, broken printers, malfunctions, and cumbersome printer set-ups. These printer woes, coupled with the findings of a ResearchGate study highlight how cloud computing and workflow automation can be fiscally beneficial for companies of all sizes.
By reducing the time spent on paper issues, companies can effectively increase employee productivity levels. Additionally, workflow automation solutions can be leveraged to more effectively, without paper, to onboard new employees, manage approvals, and many other critical business processes.
According to the Paperless Project, U.S. companies spend more than $120 billion a year on printed forms, most of which out of date within three months’ time. Given how easy it is to move forms online, it's simply a matter of selecting a digital form solution and retiring paper forms forever.
In short, by removing paper, companies can take away an unnecessary expense, eliminate opportunities for productivity decreases, and create the foundation for agile and scalable processes.
Paperless Environments Encourage More Effective Knowledge Transfer
It's no secret that transferring employee knowledge is vital to company success. However, when this knowledge is confined to various forms of paper, the transfer process is not only cumbersome, but it is also costly. Paper products are one of the reasons that onboarding documents are never updated and knowledge is lost when employees quit or transfer to new departments.
Instead, cloud-based solutions allow employees to more effectively share documents and creates the foundation for interdepartmental sharing, which is especially vital for departments that observe compliance standards or outside regulatory scrutiny. When departments can more effectively share their knowledge, they are able to continue to innovate, gain a competitive edge, and effectively implement processes that have a higher ROI than silo-based methodologies. Fortunately, the right cloud computing tool can expedite collaboration efforts, leverage repeatable processes, and deliver the desired results.
The Bottom Line: Through Cloud-Based Technology Solutions Companies Can Go Paperless
According to the 2018 State of the Global Paper Industry, global paper consumption has surpassed sustainable levels. If companies want to decrease their ecological footprint, reduce costs, increase productivity levels, improve knowledge transfers, and obtain higher ROIs through scalable and agile solutions, then they need to follow through on paperless initiatives. Through proven cloud-based technologies, including workflow automation solutions, companies can immediately enjoy the benefits of a paperless environment.