- 56% of workers are still printing and 50% are still scanning, even while working from home.
- A PwC report found that the average company spends $20 in labor to file paper, $120 searching for a missing document, and $220 to recreate a lost document.
- Unless governments provide incentives for entities to stop using printing paper, companies will need to create their own policies about their paper usage.
In the industry of work, there have been numerous shifts in technology that have led to advancements that not only make our lives easier, but also make working more efficient and less wasteful.
It’s not hard to think that in the future, the need for printing out documents on paper will no longer be necessary. Already, most items that are printed on paper can simply be emailed instead.
While recent research has shown that printing and scanning have decreased significantly since the start of the pandemic, 56% of workers are still printing and 50% are still scanning, even while working from home.
Printing out agendas and other documents will soon seem like an archaic idea, as now we have the technology to make nearly everything digital.
The question is: Is it possible for the future of work to be paperless?
It’s true that old habits die hard.
The average office worker still uses about 10,000 sheets of paper a year. American corporations spend over $120 billion on printed forms, most of which become outdated within three months.
In many cases, future-driven organizations are eliminating paper from the start, in which they create interactive PDF forms that are accessible via the web and mobile apps.
Customers, partners, and employees complete the documents online, which accelerates the business process and improves satisfaction.
A company or government agency can save the completed digital form for its records while also pulling data out of the forms and entering it into a centralized repository, according to Forbes.
If a business contract or official document requires signatures, cloud-based e-signature technology makes it much easier and faster to complete. Software can make the process of collecting multiple signatures fully automated.
This process is not only far easier than printing documents and taking the time to physically send them to the recipients, but it saves money and saves the trees.
What are the benefits of going paperless?
- Saves money: Corporations around the world could save hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars if they ceased printing.
- Streamlines processes: Emailing documents is quicker than printing them, and keeping documents digitally will allow people to access them and information more easily.
- Reduces wasted time: Not printing out documents anymore will reduce the time and cost of editing, changing, and redistributing the documents and forms.
- Improves security: Keeping documents online improves the security of the data and confidential information in which they hold.
- Ensures safety of documents: Papers can get lost easily, but if documents are kept online (and properly saved and backed up) there is no chance of losing them.
- Reduce carbon footprint: Digitizing documents eliminates the need to physically distribute, copy, and duplicate paperwork, which reduces a company’s carbon footprint.
What will the paperless office look like?
Imagine no paper documents to sign and pass around the office. No paper documents to sift through and keep updating. No paper documents to store in limited office space. No need for file cabinets.
Instead, all documents are saved and shared on computers.
When will the paperless office be a reality?
When companies decide they want to save the huge expense of buying and printing paper, as well as reduce their harmful footprint on the environment, that is when the paperless future of work will become a reality.
Unless governments provide incentives for entities to stop using printing paper, companies will need to create their own policies about their paper usage.
PwC found that the average company spends $20 in labor to file paper, $120 searching for a missing document, and $220 to recreate a lost document.
This means that companies with 1,000 employees are spending $3.5 million annually on issues created by paper.
If a company’s budget is strained, especially by the impact of the pandemic, cutting out paper may be one of the fastest and easiest ways to significantly save funds.
These three companies are opting to stop using paper
1. Bank of America
Most banks offer their clients e-statements, paper-free transfers, and a chance to communicate with professionals online as opposed to in the bank and on paper, but Bank of America is considering the environment in their policies.
After recognizing the high cost and impact of their paper use, they began to look for suppliers with sound environmental practices back in the ‘90s. They cut back on in-house paper use and reduced their consumption by 32%.
The bank also pushed hard for more efforts to recycle and oversaw 30,000 tons of paper being reused. That’s the same as saving 200,000 trees.
Cloud-based tech company Minute has made the switch to an office of no waste in a move towards a green classification. They waste no sheets of paper throughout their day.
One of the more powerful techniques implemented at Minute was the removal of trash cans. Most offices have a small trash can tucked under each desk, giving employees a place to waste.
Other moves the company made included putting their only printer in the least accessible room in the office, which led to less printing.
Minute also has a ban on business cards and notebooks, only checks their paper mail once every few weeks (they send most of it back) and the company even replaced their traditional toilets with bidets so as to not use so much toilet paper.
3. The Austin Company
The Austin Company, an international firm of construction management services, puts a big emphasis on safety and quality inspections. Doing these on paper took over two hours per building.
Now the firm uses online documentation on tablets and phones, and what used to take two hours now only needs 15 minutes.
The move toward paperless automation and distribution has a massive number of benefits for virtually any business, especially for organizations that are highly reliant on forms and contracts – such as healthcare, financial services, law firms, insurance companies and government agencies.