Going Digital

Going Digital to save money through recycling programSaving Paper, Saving Money

Going digital has been a goal of individuals, businesses, and governments since personal computers arrived center stage several decades ago. A paperless office offers a number of benefits, but some detractors say the country isn’t quite ready to do away with 100 percent of the pulpy stuff.

Benefits of Going Digital

Converting records and processes to electronic functions reduces the amount of paper used by an office. Two obvious benefits are the monetary savings associated with reduced paper, toner, printer, and filing supply purchases as well as the positive environmental impact of decreased reliance on paper. Digital filing and document systems usually provide additional efficiency benefits. If computer systems are properly planned, it can take seconds — rather than minutes or hours — to find a document. Efficiency provides labor costs savings, increase accuracy, reduce errors, and even improve customer service.

Technology Supports a Decreasing Reliance on Paper

Programmers, hardware providers, and software companies are working to create electronic solutions that reduce business reliance on paper. One innovation is known as e-signature. The ability to add an encrypted approval, or signature, to documents may make it possible to conduct contract law electronically in the future. Microsoft recently announced a deal to include e-signature capabilities in its Office 365 suite. Adobe has offered this capability via EchoSign. Another well-known provider is DocuSign.

Hurdles to a Paperless World

It’s not surprising that paper lobbyists are working to slow down the government’s move to push going digital on a variety of industries, including healthcare. Though the paper industry certainly has something to lose when it comes to a 100 percent paperless world, the lobbyists bring up valuable points. Around 25 percent of Americans are without Internet access, say the lobbyists, and a majority of individuals still prefer to have options regarding electronic or paper. Small businesses also deal with upfront costs and technology hurdles when migrating to paperless systems.

Though the future may be paperless, it’s safe to say file cabinets and printers aren’t out of a job yet. In the meantime, offices should work to secure and shred documents appropriately to keep clutter at a minimum and protect sensitive data in hardcopy form.

Are you going digital in your office?