A blank sheet of paper holds promise. You can fill that sheet of paper with whatever information you need, then refer to it when needed.
This is why paper has served this purpose for years, decades, and even centuries. It holds our essential information for easy reference.
But as an enterprise collects more information year over year, the amount of physical paper needed to contain it grows exponentially. Eventually, a reliance on physical paper becomes inefficient and untenable.
Unfortunately, the inefficiencies of a paper-driven operation—including higher costs, cumbersome workflow, space constraints, and much more—become roadblocks that prevent businesses from achieving their goals and maximizing productivity. The most forward-thinking organizations have recognized this, shifting their sights towards digital workplace solutions to cultivate a more future-ready work environment.
Let’s look at some common problems with using physical paper for mission-critical information and how going digital can help.
The Pitfalls of Physical Paper
As mentioned above, despite its usefulness, physical paper can create inefficiencies. These issues can impact productivity, workplace morale, and your company’s bottom line.
Here are some of the most common problems with relying on physical paper to house your office’s most important information:
From an information governance perspective, physical documents pose a significant security risk. These files can easily get misplaced, stolen, or destroyed, potentially leading to data breaches or losing vital information. Data breaches can create distrust between you and your clients and leave your business open to fines and lawsuits for regulation non-compliance.
On top of all that, these security issues can branch into other problems, potentially impacting worker productivity, project timelines, and office budgets as your team scrambles to recreate missing documents and information.
When considering the physical realities of the office environment, one of the most glaring issues with a reliance on paper is space utilization. Filing cabinets, storage rooms, and even desk clutter can consume valuable real estate.
Additionally, the space and labor required to maintain paper file storage add up quickly. On average, offices spend around $1,200 annually for every filing cabinet.
Manually dealing with physical documents can negatively impact employee experiences. It often leads to frustration due to time-consuming tasks such as manual filing and retrieving of documents. This can detract from time better spent on core business activities, adversely affect overall employee satisfaction and productivity, and interfere with reaching business goals.
The continuous need for printing and maintaining paper documents requires labor, equipment, supplies, and maintenance—all of which come at a significant cost. Consider that using paper requires printers, paper, ink, filing cabinets, employees or contractors to maintain the machines, and the time needed to complete paper-related tasks.
Even a small business with around $5 million in annual revenue can spend an average of $150,000 on paper-related costs yearly.
Lastly, it’s important to consider the environmental implications of paper reliance. Excessive paper consumption leads to deforestation and contributes to climate change. The average office can use up to 10,000 sheets of paper every year. Even worse, many of these sheets end up in the garbage bin due to regulated retention schedules, printing errors, or accidental destruction.
Pivoting to a Digital Workplace
If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that the future of work is digital. For nearly any task we need to complete, there is usually an app or piece of software that can help us accomplish it.
Embracing a digital workplace enables businesses to transform their operating systems and workflows by utilizing cutting-edge digital workplace solutions such as document imaging and electronic document management.
This shift streamlines workflow and empowers employees by offering real-time collaboration tools that enhance their work-life balance and productivity.
Document imaging and electronic document management systems (EDMS) can help if you’re considering digital transformation.
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Document imaging is a technique that converts physical documents into digital formats. Document imaging uses scanners or similar devices to capture the information on paper and convert it into a digital file stored in a computer or a cloud-based file management system.
Once digitized, a document becomes accessible, editable, and shareable in real-time, significantly streamlining business processes. Document imaging allows businesses to preserve essential documents and information while enhancing their accessibility and security.
Electronic Document Management
Electronic document management takes the process of digitization a step further. It’s what happens once your documents are available in a digital format.
An EDMS offers a comprehensive system for managing these digitized documents. It provides a platform with advanced organization, indexing, and retrieval capabilities. This significantly improves information management and contributes to good file management practices.
An effective EDMS leverages file management software to facilitate seamless, real-time access to documents, no matter the location of the employees. This makes EDMS an ideal tool for remote work setups, which are becoming integral to the modern work environment.
Moreover, an EDMS can be integrated with other business systems through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). This ensures a seamless flow of information across various platforms, further streamlining business processes, enhancing collaboration, and improving employee experiences.
The Benefits of a Digital Workplace
Adopting document imaging and electronic document management as part of a comprehensive digital workplace platform can offer a business many benefits. Some of the most common benefits of a digital workplace include:
Effective file management in a digital workplace can significantly streamline workflows. Digitized documents can be accessed and shared in real-time, facilitating effective collaboration and boosting productivity.
Swift Search & Retrieval
With digital documents, employees can use keywords to locate required files in seconds, saving time and making the work process more efficient. A powerful EDMS can even search images of text, such as an image of a scanned sheet of paper, for keywords.
AI can identify words and types of documents for immediate and accurate meta-tagging for improved searches. This AI-driven tagging can occur during scanning, ensuring your digital documents are tagged, classified, and easily searchable when you receive them.
The transition to digital formats opens up valuable office space previously occupied by physical documents. This can lead to cost savings if businesses decide to reduce their physical footprint.
Digital documents offer enhanced security options. For instance, businesses can implement access controls, ensuring that sensitive documents are accessible only to authorized personnel. Documents can also be redacted or encrypted, preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing information even in the event of a data breach.
Additionally, digital documents can be backed up to guard against information loss due to physical disasters.
While transitioning to a digital workplace requires an upfront investment, the long-term cost savings are significant. The digital workplace cuts down on printing and storage costs. And by improving efficiency and productivity, businesses can expect a higher return on investment.
Improved Employee Satisfaction
Businesses can enhance employee satisfaction by eliminating the frustrations associated with managing physical documents. The digital workplace also facilitates a better work-life balance as employees can access necessary documents from anywhere, making remote work an even more attractive and achievable option.
Create a seamless workplace: Collaborate, share, report, and leverage real-time digital business content from any device, anywhere.