A paperless office has long been seen as a pipe dream by those who can’t see the forest for the trees. Look around, and you’ll see that most offices have the kindling to build a fire that will eventually ignite into the future of all sustainable offices — no more paper. With a few minor tweaks, and the purchase of some additional equipment any company can have a modern, green and paperless office right now.

If you’re not convinced that the move to a paperless office is the right choice for your company, consider that you’re wasting money and valuable resources on paper products. Every office that hasn’t yet gone paperless is losing ground every day while competitors soak up the benefits of a truly paperless existence. The problem isn’t necessarily with individual offices failing to adopt paperless technologies though. The real issue is with all the other companies that a paperless office still has to work with.

There are several reasons why an office would choose to go paperless, despite the hassle associated with working together alongside paper-based offices. The first benefit boils down to efficiency. Electronic documents can be easily modified, edited, copied, transferred, backed up and multiple revisions complete with the entire edit history can be stored on a server. Once a document has been edited, it can be places online and accessed from off-site locations.

If you’re working with a paper-based company, they can still access the file and print the document. Alternatively, your business can easily send the document to the printers and have it shipped. Every person in your office can access the same, updated documents. This saves time, make the office more efficient, and results in additional savings by using an Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS).

As you make the transition from paper to paperless, you may notice that at first there is some resistance. But, as the benefits of an all digital workplace become apparent, even the most stubborn colleagues and clients can be migrated to the new way of doing business. Working with clients more efficiently and the slow, paper-based competitors won’t be able to keep up. This alone is worth it’s weight in paper reams, and it will show your clients that you’re a company with vision.

Lost and misfiled documents are the bane of every paper-based company. With an EDMS system, you don’t have to worry about losing documents since they are stored and backed up on a central server. Additionally, using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) it’s possible to quickly translate paper-based documents to electronic documents. In a study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, lost documents account for 7.5% of all documents. Imagine being able to search every document ever created by your company with a single search command. Paper-based companies can’t come close to this sort of efficiency.

Labor in locating a misfiled document can cost up to $120. It can cost $220 or more to reproduce a lost documents, and filing a document can run a company $20 per document. Administrative fees are greatly reduced by using an electronic processing system. Don’t just think about the costs of doing business; consider how clean and organized your business will be with a paperless office.

You can literally take your entire office with you on a single hard drive, or access all of your documents from a secure server from basically anywhere. A small hard drive can store millions of documents, so consider how much space you can save by turning to a completely electronic system. It’s the same as have over 800 filing drawers in the space of one 3.5-inch desktop drive.

If you care about the environment, then you don’t need to read any further. The output of approximately 1,000 office workers over the course of a year can save up to 2,500 trees. That means for every office worker, the world loses about 2.5 trees per year. A statement released by Nalini Nadkarni of The Evergreen State College in Washington demonstrates that the Earth currently has about 61 trees per person. Over the course of a lifetime, there is a significant deficit in the tree to person ratio.

Paper will continue to exist in the world of business, but green printing offers a practical solution to a difficult problem. By using green printing techniques, you can reduce costs and eliminate the impact on the environment. It’s not a complete solution, but it’s a good start while companies make the effort to become paperless and work in line with the needs of the environment. The sustainable International Standards of Environmental Management (ISO4001) dictate policies that are designed to help businesses reduce their environmental footprint. Through a combination of innovative business strategy, progressive work policies and real-life management skills, companies can begin to become part of the solution and no longer the problem.

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