People say the whole world is supposedly “going paperless.” While it’s true that many organizations have implemented paper-free initiatives, we may not be as close to achieving the goal of a paperless office as we’re led to believe. In fact, some companies are actually using more paper than ever before.
According to a recent 420-organization survey conducted by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), 20 percent of these companies—roughly 84 of the survey respondents—are increasing paper usage.
UK Companies Are Still Using Paper in Large Quantities
Companies in the United Kingdom have been especially laggard when it comes to making the transition to a paperless office. Despite projections made in the 1970s that the advent of computers would make paper virtually obsolete by 2015, it appears that the opposite has actually occurred. A recent Recycling Portal report based on a survey of more than 250 UK companies found that paper-free initiatives have had little or no impact on paper consumption.
According to the report:
- 74 percent of the survey respondents indicated they are actually using the same or more paper than they were in 2009.
- 31 percent of companies in this group reported using more paper now than ever before.
- Companies aren’t the only culprit in terms of heavy paper consumption; Recycling Portal also reports that UK residents use approximately 400 pounds of paper per person per year.
Possible Reasons Why the “Paperless Revolution” Has Yet to Occur
The AIIM survey points out that 57 percent of respondents indicated they are “committed” to going paperless. So why has the total paperless office failed to gain widespread acceptance? There are several possible explanations:
- Customer demands — In some instances, using paper is necessary to suit customer preferences. London’s The Telegraph, citing research conducted by document storage company Iron Mountain, pointed out that many customers still prefer paper for conducting business transactions. Consumer backlash has been strong whenever companies attempt to go paperless.
- Growth with no corresponding paper-free initiatives — Companies that experience rapid growth often fail to incorporate paper-free initiatives into their growth strategies. The implementation of the paperless office is simply put on the back burner, if it receives any attention at all.
- The prominence of paper — Organizations that have relied on paper for so long are often reluctant to make a total commitment to a paperless environment. The AIIM findings bear this out: 35 percent of the respondents indicated that most digital invoices are still printed out, and 31 percent stated they still use as many as 45 sheets of paper per day.
What Are the Benefits of a Paperless Office?
While going paperless poses a major adjustment for many companies and is often met with initial resistance, the implementation of a paperless office, with the help of computer-based document management systems, offers important benefits in the long run:
- More money — Reducing paper consumption saves companies money by lowering purchasing, copying, printing, storage, postage, and disposal costs. The AIIM research indicates that 84 percent of companies saw a return on their investment from paper-free projects in the form of reduced costs in as little as 18 months, while 26 percent saw a ROI in only six months.
- Increased efficiency — Using less paper increases staff efficiency. The use of electronic forms and filing systems enables workers to be more organized and gives them more time to spend on productive activities.
- Friendly for the environment — In a time where there is a strong focus on improving the environment, paper-free offices can play a major role in green initiatives. It takes about 1 ½ cups of wood to produce just one sheet of paper, so going paperless helps to preserve trees and forests. Reducing paper use also lowers the production of greenhouse gases.
Document Management Software Makes the Paperless Office a Practical Alternative
The availability of document management software makes the transition to a paperless office a fast and painless process for companies of all sizes. These document management systems enable users to easily scan paper documents and make them digital, locate files in a matter of seconds, and share documents with others quickly and securely. Companies that use document management software typically experience a significant increase in profitability by reducing their paper dependency.
Learn More about the Advantages of Going Paperless
eFileCabinet offers user-friendly document management systems that can help you create a paperless office, which will increase your productivity and boost your bottom line. Contact us to learn more about the many benefits of instituting paper-free initiatives in your organization with the help of document management software.