We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—paper still has its uses. When we talk about “going paperless,” what we really are talking about is minimizing the amount of paper in your office, rather than eliminating it completely. No matter how hard you try, there will still be some paper floating around your office, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But how do you properly identify what paper is useful, and what paper you’re hanging onto unnecessarily? Here are our suggestions for recognizing the differences.
It Can’t Be Digitized
There are some papers that are extremely difficult or even impossible to convert into an electronic format. For example, perhaps you have a physical copy of a booklet you received at a tradeshow. It contains a lot of useful tips that your business uses, and because of the way it’s printed and bound, you can’t fit it into your company’s scanner. In this case, not being digital doesn’t mean the document isn’t useful. It can be worth hanging on to items like this for as long as you need to.
Of course, if you have a lot of items like this, you may want to look into purchasing a new scanner for your office. Different scanners have different size capabilities, and you may be able to find one that can scan in these tradeshow booklets and other documents of non-standard sizes. Then you’ll be able to store them digitally so that everyone in your office can easily make use of them.
It’s Legally Needed
Depending on your industry, you may need to keep a physical copy of certain documents for legal reasons or to meet compliance regulations. If this is the case, obviously you will need to hang on to those paper documents, no matter how badly you may want to digitize them. In these cases, those papers serve one very distinct purpose—keeping you compliant—and that’s a purpose you can’t afford to sacrifice.
Your Customers Demand It
Some customers today have a hard time adjusting to the digital world. They will continue to stubbornly demand hard copies of documents, and will want to physically sign anything you give them instead of using an eSignature. If you have customers that are insistent that they need paper copies of things, then you should accommodate them; after all, the customer is always right.
Hopefully, those customers will adapt sometime down the road and you’ll be able to digitize all of their documents too. But until that time comes, their papers are important for the sole reason that they help to keep your customers happy.
Thoughts on Handwritten Notes
It’s also worth talking about the value of handwriting notes, whether you’re brainstorming at your desk or taking notes in a meeting. A lot of people like to take notes digitally, but others prefer the old-fashioned combination of pencil and notepad, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. Writing your notes down by hand allows you to organize your thoughts in a way that’s most convenient and makes the most sense to you.
Perhaps you want to draw out some diagrams or quickly map out a workflow idea. Doing that on your computer can actually take longer than doing it on paper, so it can actually make more sense to write out notes like that by hand. However, if you have handwritten notes that you need to reference regularly, or that you need to be easily accessible to others, you should consider digitizing those notes after you’re done writing them out.
As always, if you need a helping hand in deciding how much paper you need to hang onto, we’re here for you.