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How to Go Paperless in the Workplace

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If your office is strewn with papers and file cabinets, switching to a digital platform may have crossed your mind at some point to clear the clutter. However, this arduous task is easier said than done, especially if your employees are resistant to change. But if done properly, making the shift could save you cash in the long run.

Still having reservations about transitioning to a paperless workplace? If so, here are a few benefits to consider:

• More cost-efficient. According to Reduce.org, the average employee uses approximately 10,000 sheets of copy paper annually. So even if you’re a small-scale organization, the costs incurred are still excessive.

• Expedited access. Have you ever needed to quickly access an important file, but couldn’t seem to locate it in the overcrowded cabinets? Digital records alleviate this headache once and for all, assuming the files are properly scanned and organized in the document management system.

• Less clutter. Imagine if your office were free of file cabinets. This would foster a clutter-free and comfortable work environment.

Making the Transition

Depending on the nature of your organization, going paperless may be more of a hassle than it’s worth. To assess the feasibility of the transition, conduct a cost-benefit analysis that lists the benefits and drawbacks.

While you may be tempted to purchase a document management system and count on your employees to make it happen, doing so could cost you in time, productivity and money. “All of your current employees already have full-time jobs; this project will thus decrease productivity, and could potentially increase stress — and possibly turnover,” Marshall Maglothin, owner of Blue Oak Consulting in Fairfax, Virginia, told Inc. A better option is to bring on an experienced professional firm to help you devise a plan of action, select software and handle the actual implementation of the new system. You’ll also need to select project leaders to manage operations and fulfillments.

Important Implementation Tips

• Don’t forget the accounting systems. In fact, financial data should be the first to transition to a digital system since it is one of the most significant elements of your business. Look into software like Quickbooks to help you get started. Also, check out Expensify for employees who routinely submit expense reports for reimbursement.

• Online file sharing. When transitioning to a paperless system, employees may be a bit concerned about their ability to collaborate simultaneously on a particular file or disseminate updated versions to others in the office without printing the entire document. However, Google Docs has you covered and updates are shown in real time. As for oversized deliverables that don’t require simultaneous editing, there is no need to print out hundreds of pages because the file is too large to email. Simply place the document in your team’s Dropbox and you’re all set.

• Smartphones. By offering employees a smartphone, you give them the power to respond to an urgent email or scan and convert important documents into PDF files using their camera with an app like TurboScan. In addition, they can attend meetings and view corresponding files directly from their mobile device using TeamViewer.

• Electronic faxes. Through eFax or another comparable service, you can stop checking the fax machine every hour since the incoming documents will arrive in your inbox, instead.

• Request soft documents. Whether it is bank statements, outstanding bills or vendor invoices, requesting that all correspondence be sent electronically will eliminate the accumulation of paper in the office. Also, opt-in to online bill pay and electronic transfers to avoid having to cut paper checks.

Posted on May 21st, 2015 by Rachel Braam, Office Manager

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