There has been a lot of discussion recently about the removal of paper from business processes, and for good reason. Recent statistics suggest that the United States, which has roughly five percent of the world’s population, uses about forty percent of the world’s paper. In addition to environmental concerns (a significant amount of lumber goes directly into the production of paper and nowhere else), there are also economic and practical business concerns with the use (or overuse, as some people say) of paper.

How many documents are lost on or between workers’ desks and are then forgotten and thrown out later? How many millions of pounds of paper are printed out as documents and forms that just sit around in filing cabinets? How much time could workers save by doing away with physical filing systems entirely and just giving them an electronic archive with a search function? Paperless business seems like an obvious move as we go further into the twenty first century, but what about email?

Surely, what many people refer to as a revolutionary technology for business must have some staying power. And yet, there are people who are calling for the replacement or removal of email in business contexts. The reasons for this are pretty numerous and varied. Throughout this article, we will talk about the problems with email in businesses, how it relates to paperless offices, and what solutions related to document sharing, secure transfer, file sharing, and other new technological developments people are proposing as replacements for email.


Problems with Email

One of the problems that some people identify with email is that it is actually too efficient. Especially in a world where smart phones, data plans, and mobile technology are so prevalent, it is very easy to check your email at almost any time in almost any place. A study group from the United Kingdom led by a distinguished psychologist, Sir Cary Cooper, has suggested that the compulsion for workers to check their work emails at night, at home, on weekends, and on holidays or vacations is actually a bad thing in the long run. Sure, it might mean that an individual worker gets a particular task done more quickly, but it can also be harmful to one’s mental health and family life.

Leaving the psychology side of things behind for now, there is also evidence that suggests that email is overused from a business perspective. Most workers’ email boxes are flooded with emails of varying importance, and workers end up spending a lot of time just managing the numerous emails that come their way—certainly, many are important and vital to their jobs, but many are also ancillary, unnecessary, or even entirely pointless. Email management mistakes, unhelpful technology, and program bugs can also slow down work processes. It’s for these kinds of reasons that many people are becoming more skeptical of email’s utility as a business tool, and instead are proponents of integrating email messaging with some kind of document management or file sharing system.


Document Management Systems Offer a Solution

So, how do you solve some of the problems of email without sacrificing its undeniable usefulness as a business tool? One of the proposed solutions that a lot of companies are beginning to embrace is the idea of a messaging system or email account that is integrated within a document management system (DMS) like eFileCabinet’s Secure Drawer.

Secure Drawer is a client portal program that is primarily used for the secure transfer of encrypted documents with sensitive information, but also interacts with document management and workflow systems. This means that managers have a better idea of how and when their workers are accessing work information. It also means that the kind of emails that are being sent are also visible to managers. Since this kind of email system is more protected, it is easier to direct workflow in a more structured way. It can also protect against spam and present messages in a way that is less stressful, more organized, and overall better for business and the mental health of employees. In answer to the original question, will email ever be replaced entirely by encrypted DMS file sharing portals, we hope so!