Should Your Office Go Paperless or Just Paper-Light?

By Daniel Stockli - TIMG Digital Solutions Lead

Workplaces all around New Zealand are making efforts to reduce their waste levels. For many offices, that means cutting down on the amount of paper they use. Kiwis discard over 15.5 million tonnes of garbage every year, so every business that does its part contributes to a greener, healthier New Zealand.

That being said, is going green the only reason to go paperless? In reality, many businesses are making the shift away from paper-based offices for other reasons such as reducing clutter and improved and easier access and storage of important information. Paperless records management is safer, faster, and more secure. Is a paperless office the right choice for your workplace? Perhaps a paper-light office that strikes a more practical balance between paper and digital records is the better choice.

Why go paperless?

Going paperless is good for more than the environment. It presents noticeable benefits for your business as well. Storing records digitally is substantially cheaper than the reams of paper, printing, and storage expenses. Digital file management also provides for rapid and even instant recall of stored records, improving business efficiency. Files can be located by anyone from their own computers, allowing for more mobile or remote workers. Digital records-keeping systems like cloud storage are also safe from physical damage like fires or water leaks, among others.

Finally, a paperless office better reflects the larger trend of digital interactions with consumers. More and more purchases are being made online. A paperless model for records-keeping is consistent with the future of your business’s interactions.

So why do we still use paper?

Not long ago, the paperless office was considered imminent. Many predicted that digitisation would soon render paper a thing of the past within the modern office – that prediction hasn’t exactly panned out. Digital storage is certainly on the rise, but paper records have proven valuable and, in many cases, crucial to a business’s success.

Some types of records are still required by the New Zealand government, varying depending on industry, to be kept in paper form for compliance purposes. Some of these government requirements are industry-specific, such as the Public Finance Act 1989 or the Reserve Bank Act 1989. Others, like the Financial Transactions Reporting Act 1996 apply to a broad swathe of industries. You can view all these reporting Acts here.

How to go paperless in your office

Making any change to your information management systems is a major decision. Going entirely paperless can seem daunting, even impractical. That’s why many businesses today are opting for a more practical paper-light office, going digital where possible but still preserving certain paper records.

If you choose to adopt paperless practices in your office, consider the following:

  1. Determine which digital storage solutions you are going to use, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, and develop a folder system and naming conventions to make future file retrieval fast and simple.
  2. Scan existing documents into the digital setup. You may choose to destroy any paper records you no longer need once they’ve been scanned in, whether immediately or after a certain period of retention. Be sure to develop a system for scanning in future documents regularly and consistently.
  3. Find digital solutions for everyday tasks that produce paper waste. Apps and browser programs can now be used for nearly every office task, from scheduling calendars to managing tasks to reminders
  4. Conduct routine audits of your records and purge documents when necessary. This reduces clutter and lessens retrieval times for relevant documents.
  5. Initiate document exchanges digitally. This encourages clients and partners to provide documents to you in digital format, saving time scanning and improving efficiency.

Get the help you need to go paperless

Digital records management is a new skillset for some organisations and business owners. That’s why TIMG offers unparalleled support when it comes to digital storage solutions designed to give your business the visibility and control it needs to sufficiently manage information. Only TIMG provides a comprehensive suite of tools to help you transform your information management such as file digitisation, customised workflows, and online cloud storage. Contact TIMG today to learn more.