Research shows that going paperless can increase staff productivity by 30%.
This means that making the transition and becoming a digital organization could be just the step your company needs to take to hit its goals.
However, if you’re thinking about going paperless – or wondering if it’s even the right move for you – then you likely have some questions or are not sure where to start.
That’s why we’ve put together this article. We’ll cover what counts as being paperless in the workplace, explain the benefits of digitalization and provide you with a step-by-step guide to getting started.
Let’s get into it.
What does ‘paperless’ mean, exactly?
When someone describes an organization as ‘paperless’ it means that it’s replaced all business-related paperwork with a digital alternative.
This includes removing or replacing all hard copy versions of:
- Customer files
- Printed internal communications
- Paper-based forms
- Written messages
- Paperwork used to carry out everyday business tasks
There are several changes that most companies need to make this happen. For example, you might want to invest in digital signage to give yourself an easy way to communicate internally with your employees without having to rely on paper signage to do so.
How going paperless helps your company
The average business will benefit from going paperless in several ways. Here are some of the top examples of how your company might benefit from making this transition.
Cost-savings are one of the main benefits of switching from a paper system to a digital one. Large businesses may be able to save upwards of $47,000 per year by going paperless.
Your company’s exact savings will vary based on how much it spends on its current paper-based systems, but research shows that 84% of companies get back their initial investment from going paperless within 18 months of doing so.
Once you break even on your initial investment, your company will be able to look forward to consistent savings every year.
We said it in the intro but it’s worth repeating here – employees at paperless organizations are about 30% more efficient on average.
That means making the switch should help you get more out of the team that you already have in place, boosting productivity and avoiding those “I just had it right here…” moments in the office!
Protect sensitive information
It’s also much easier to protect sensitive information when you keep it in a digital form. That’s because, when you digitize this type of data, you have the option to encrypt it or restrict access to certain team members.
The same isn’t true of paper documents, which are much easier to misplace or lose track of. This can, unfortunately, lead to situations in which confidentiality is breached and employees, customers or partners view information that ought not to have been shared.
Help the environment
Paper accounts for about 26% of all waste at landfills. When it rots, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. That means that when it comes to our paper usage, using less is a great way to prioritize sustainability within your business.
If your company is committed to doing its part to combat climate change, then becoming a paperless organization can be a great step in the right direction. By making this switch, you can do right by the planet while also helping your company’s bottom line. Talk about a win-win.
What you need to go paperless
Do you think that going paperless is right for your company? If so, you’re going to need the following items to make it happen:
- Software that helps you manage your documents electronically
- Scanners to digitize your paper documents
- Employee training modules to get your team on board with the change
- Digital security strategy to make sure the only people who see protected documents are those who should
- Digital signage to share internal messages without paper signage
We’ll lead you through how all of these things fit together and how to prioritize them in the following section.
How to transition your business to a paperless one (step-by-step instructions)
Becoming a paperless organization is usually a multi-step process. We’ll dive into each of those steps in this section.
Step 1: Create a detailed transition plan
The first thing your business needs to do is come up with a plan. Your transition plan should include information about:
- What your goals are for going paperless
- The strategies you’ll use to digitize your existing paper documents
- Software and tools your team will use to replace paper-based interactions with digital alternatives
- What you’re going to do with your paper documents once they’re no longer needed
- Any other information that’s relevant to your company’s transition process
It’s important to be clear about what the entire transition process is going to look like before embarking on it. Otherwise, you may risk completing one step a certain way only to find out that the strategy you used isn’t compatible with the next step of your process.
It may even be worth partnering with an organization that specializes in helping companies go paperless as you formulate a plan to make sure that you don’t leave anything out.
Step 2: Get your employees on board
Once you have a plan, it’s time to start rallying your employees behind it. Ultimately, they’re going to be the people who determine whether your paperless transition is effective or not since they’re the ones who currently create and use paper materials.
Getting your team excited about the transition is all about helping them see how much easier their jobs will be once your company goes paperless. Referencing how much time they’ll save with a digital system can be an effective strategy.
Step 3: Organize your paper files
Now you’re ready to start organizing your paper files. This is worth doing before attempting to digitize them because it’ll make the digitization process much easier for you.
There are a few different actions you can take in this step, including:
- Recycling or shredding outdated files (shredding provides an additional step to protect confidential information)
- Alphabetizing your files
- Grouping similar file types together
- Organizing the files based on security requirements
The main idea is to get your paper files situated so that digitizing them is as simple as scanning one and moving on to the next. You should try to do whatever’s necessary to get to that point during this step.
Step 4: Pick your software
When your company goes paperless, it needs software to replace the functions it used to carry out with paper. The specific software that your business needs will depend on what it does.
For example, a real-estate company might need software that enables it to easily send and sign contracts digitally, while a bank might need software with special types of security built into it.
Beyond this, you’re also going to need software that can store the files that you’re currently holding as paper. In addition, you may want to look into picking up digital signage software to give your company an easy digital way to communicate with customers and employees.
Step 5: Digitize your documents
You’re finally ready to start digitizing your documents!
This is a pretty straightforward step – you simply need to scan your paper documents and upload them into your chosen software solution.
That being said, this can certainly be a time-consuming and complicated process, depending on how much paper your business needs to digitize and how you plan on organizing it digitally.
If you don’t want to have to worry about doing this yourself, it could make sense to hire an outside organization – such as one specializing in document digitization – to do it for you. Working with a dedicated service may increase your transition costs, but could also make this process much easier on you and save a great deal of time.
Step 6: Analyze and adapt
Once you’ve successfully migrated to a paperless system, it’ll be important for you to monitor your progress and adapt as necessary.
You may find that your employees aren’t interacting with the digital software that you invested in for some reason. Or perhaps you’ll see that you’re not saving as much time as you thought you would by making this switch.
Problems like these may arise. This is okay, and a part of the transition. Simply continue to analyze your performance and seek feedback from your team to take action to resolve the issues as they arise.
UPshow makes it easier to go paperless
When your company goes paperless, it needs to come up with a new strategy for communicating with employees and on-premise customers.
Digital signage is perfect for this, allowing you to easily share customized and template-based images, videos, animations and more. It could be just what you need to make your paperless transition a successful one.