The Paperless Office: Common Misconceptions
Written by Elaine Thompson and Amy Martin, Marketing Interns, Nitro EMEA
When most people hear the phrase ‘paperless office’ they conjure up images of a workspace completely void of all forms of paper—no printers, notebooks or file folders in sight. Consequently, this has perpetuated a false expectation that a ‘paperless office’ refers to one that deals strictly with documents in a digital format, causing many businesses to view going ‘paperless’ as an impossible feat.
Ultimately, a divide has been created between the new-age offices who use no paper at all and the organizations that continue to print extortionate amounts of paper unnecessarily. But what about the huge gap in the middle? Certainly there are companies who only print when absolutely necessary, but is it fair to say that they are not a paperless office?
According to paperless expert Brooks Duncan, founder of DocumentSnap.com, “going paperless is not about doing away with things that work for you or taking activities away; instead, it means that you pledge to not create more paper than you need to. It’s that simple.” Brooks says that to be paperless, you just need to be more mindful of the paper that you use and keep, and eliminate where appropriate.
In other words, going paperless is not about ridding yourself of every single piece of paper that exists in your office; it’s about developing processes that allow you to be more efficient with your time and money while being more sustainable and relying on paper less.
With this new definition of ‘paperless’ in mind, let’s debunk some common ‘paperless’ myths which are potentially hindering your business’ attempts to go paper free.
Top 4 Paperless Misconceptions
There is a misconception that paper-based documents are more secure than their digital counterparts; but ultimately, paper creates risk. In fact, 23% of all major data breaches (those affecting more than 500 people) in companies involve paper. This increases to a massive 61% for small breaches. Paper is impossible to track, version, and protect—someone could walk out of a building with a file full of sensitive paperwork and no one would be the wiser.
With digital documents, however, there are various steps users can take to secure their files, whether through password protection and PDF certificate security or simply using a smart documents platform to track who has viewed, downloaded, or modified the document.
Some take the view that going paperless is futile in terms of environmental sustainability. However, did you know that photocopiers and printers top of the list of energy usage in an office—consuming energy when printing, on standby and in even sleep mode?
In addition, it takes approximately 11,134 kWhs to produce 1 ton of paper; the same amount of electricity used in an average household over 10 months! On the other hand, it only takes about 72 kWhs to power your laptop for an entire year, while a desktop PC would use approximately 237.2 kWhs.
It’s also worth noting that it takes up to 24 trees just to produce 1 ton of paper. To produce the same amount, it takes 19,000 gallons of water and produces 2,200 pounds of solid waste. Maybe going paperless is more sustainable after all?
There is an unfortunate myth that deploying document productivity software and training employees to use it will take more time than it’s worth. Thankfully, yet again, this is another common workplace misconception.
As an example, Nitro can be deployed very quickly over a server, and the software requires little or no training thanks to its familiar Microsoft interface. Should you need to contact our Customer Service and Support team, you’ll receive support that’s just as speedy—they boast an average first response time of under two hours.
Many people wrongly believe that the costs of document productivity software is too high and far outweighs that of just sticking with paper. Although adopting such a solution involves upfront costs, they’ll be dwarfed by the ongoing spend on paper, ink, and energy your organization will face in the long run.
According to MerusCase, it costs:
- £327 to store 10 boxes of paper/month
- £451 to recycle and shred 10 boxes worth of paper/month
- £65 to transport paper to and from the office/month
- £65 for incidental shipping and printing fees
- £19,500 to employ a file clerk
What’s more it costs approximately $1.12 to print one piece of paper (including paper, ink, electricity); this multiplied by 150 pages (average amount printed by employees per day according to AIIM) = $168. 1 license for Nitro Pro starts at $159.
As you can see from the above, sustainable consumption of paper—or going paper-lite, as we like to say—is easily achievable. The paperless office is no longer being held back by technological challenges. Everything you need to reduce your paper waste exists. The current barriers are cultural and the fear of change is all that’s standing in your way.
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