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Does the Paperless Office Really Exist? No, 10,000 Times, No

Posted  October 18, 2017  by  Lynn Brown

While there’s a lot of talk about the office going paperless, statistics show that paper is still very much in demand.

For example, the average office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of paper a year. The Paperless Project also reports that the worldwide consumption of paper has increased 400% in the last 40 years.

Here are 10 reasons why the paperless office is still just a goal... and how to make changes to help.

1. Budget

According to a post at Lasersresource.com, printing can cost up to 3% of annual revenue and be the third highest expense after payroll and rent. Reduce the budget for paper by a certain percentage each month. In the short-term, reduce bond stock too.

2. Compliance

Privacy laws require records of secure storage and destruction. In most cases, digital documentation is increasingly being accepted.  

3. Business forms

In the U.S., companies spend more than $120 billion a year on printed forms but most of those forms are dated within three months. Use digital options (PDF programs that convert forms so they can be filled out and signed online).

4. Bills

A recent Federal Reserve payments study showed that cheques still represent 15% of non-cash payments in the U.S. Direct deposits and e-transfers are efficient online alternatives. 

5. Sticky notes

Who hasn’t written their password onto a sticky note? 3M, the company that invented the Post-It Note, still produces 50 billion Post-It notes each year. But for efficiency and far better security, store notes, especially confidential information, on a hard drive or cloud-based notebook app.

6. Preference

For some people, it’s easier to read documents on paper compared to a screen. This is changing as everyone grows up with computers being part of their lives. The workplace should have a mobile device policy encouraging different devices that may be easier to read (a laptop or notebook-style device) too.  

7. Work Habits

According to Lasersresource.com, the average worker still prints 34 pages a day – but half of those pages are not used at all. Also, 65% of documents get thrown away or recycled the same day they are printed. Introduce a cost-saving paper reduction program that includes paper conserving work habits.

8. Meetings

Some people still like to share tangible information in meetings. But consider PowerPoint or other presentations, and sending agendas by email. Need handouts? Decide if it’s imperative for everyone (perhaps people can share).  

9. Communications

Printed memos and newsletters are still being distributed. Switch to digital internal communications - staff is connected to email and likely working within their email software every day. 

10. Archives

Certain departments (HR, finance, legal) tend to use printing and scanning as part of their daily workflows. According to clutterbgone.ca, 25% of workers save things in piles instead of files. Even worse, 80% of what gets filed never gets looked at again. De-clutter the workplace, and implement a comprehensive document management process backing up important files on a computer. Partner with a trustworthy document destruction company that provides secure paper shredding services. Shredded paper should be recycled.

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