Does your office really need paper? In today’s largely digital world, many businesses are transitioning over to paperless offices for a variety of different reasons. At the same time, there are some downsides to going paperless that you should consider before you make the switch. Weigh the pros and cons of eliminating paper so you can determine if it’s the right path for your business to take.
Pro: Meet Your Green Goals
One of the biggest reasons to go paperless is to reduce waste. All over the globe, businesses and individuals are taking steps to go green, and there’s no denying that going paperless is a huge step in becoming more environmentally friendly. After all, paper is made from trees, so using less paper means saving more trees. Additionally, the process used to turn trees into paper leaves an enormous carbon footprint.
Pro: Save Money On Office Supplies
If you’re going over budget on office supply expenditures, going paperless can be a great way to cut costs — often drastically. Besides eliminating paper costs, going paperless also reduces the amount of related supplies you need such as pens, pencils, folders, and file cabinets. At the same time, the savings you get from going paperless may be offset by the money you’re going to need to spend on digital solutions if you don’t have them in place already, but in the long run you may find that the switch pays for itself.
Pro: Reduce Clutter and Save Space
It’s easy to overlook just how much space paper takes up in offices. After all, in the past paper was simply necessary and expected. Using less paper doesn’t just help you keep your personal workstation tidier — it also gives you the opportunity to get rid of those clunky file cabinets that take up valuable office real estate. Instead of digging through stacks of papers or files to find that document you need, you can simply look it up on your computer, saving valuable time and effort. Plus, digital file storage allows you to store a virtually endless amount of data, whereas paper is very limited in its capacity. Over time, paper records really add up, especially if they’re important documents that can’t be discarded or recycled.
Pro: Protect Important Data
Sometimes accidents or incidents happen that are beyond our control. All it takes is a leaky ceiling to potentially damage irreplaceable files. Modern cloud-based computer storage allows you to keep your data stored securely on offsite servers so you never have to worry about an unforeseen disaster. There are plenty of backup solutions available that ensure your data is protected, no matter what. Sure, you can make copies of important documents, but even those are susceptible to damage, not to mention the time and space it takes to back up paper documents.
Con: Paper Is Often Required or Preferred
As you can see, it’s easy to make a strong case for going paperless. However, there are some downsides worth considering. One of the big ones is that the world is not fully paperless, and sometimes paper documents are preferred or even required. For instance, if you work in a legal office, going paperless wouldn’t be ideal because you often need to have clients sign physical documents. Additionally, potential customers, clients, partners, or other business associates may prefer paper, and that can cause a rift if you’re not able to accommodate them.
Con: Paper Is Easier On the Eyes
Staring at a bright computer screen for hours at a time can really take its toll. While most modern offices do heavily incorporate computers, smartphones, and tablets into the workday, there are usually other tasks that break up time spent in front of screens, and many of those tasks involve paper. When you go paperless, you’re committing to a largely digital office, which can be a difficult transition for some people who aren’t comfortable spending the majority of their time in front of a digital device.
Con: Not All Employees Are Tech-Savvy
Again, less paper means more technology. If you plan to reduce paper at the office, you’re going to need to get everyone on the same page as far as new procedures and equipment goes. If you have employees who aren’t comfortable using digital storage solutions, you may need to use time, effort, and resources to train them. There’s naturally going to be a transition period while everyone gets used to the new system, but it’s possible some of your more old-school employees may feel left behind.
Con: Internet Connections Aren’t Always Reliable
If you have a spotty internet connection, you may run into problems. Besides potentially bringing your workday to a grinding halt, transferring huge batches of data across a slow internet connection can be quite costly and time-consuming. When you go digital, you’re going to be relying on technology that could falter at any moment. To combat that problem, you may need to hire IT workers to help you recover if your connection goes down or if other problems arise.
If you’re still not sure if going paperless is the right move, you may want to consider starting small and then working into it over time. For example, you could start storing only your customer files on the computer while still using paper for important documents that require a human touch. You don’t need to rush into it. Be on the lookout for new ways to eliminate paper when it makes sense on a case-by-case basis. Eventually, you should find a system that makes sense for your company.