The idea of a paperless office has been touted for many years now. The theory holds that paperless systems operate more efficiently, conserve natural resources, reduce greenhouse emissions, and provide instant access to important information. Until now most people considered that more of a dream than a reality. It was felt that the stress of transferring all existing data into electronic format while continuing to perform normal business operations would quickly overwhelm even a well-organized entrepreneurial machine.
Yet, today, we are closer than ever before to realizing the dream of paper-free workspaces. With technological advances currently present in the marketplace, any business can transfer to a green program easily and without complication.
By definition, a truly paperless office is one which stores all documents electronically. Hardcopies offer no benefit. Admittedly, there may be times in which paper copies would be more beneficial, for example retaining all tax documents, yet all other documents would be completely electronic. Accounting, payroll, inventory, marketing, and legal documents are all filed in electronic format. Massive filing systems become an eyesore of the past. Shredding of sensitive documents is no longer necessary. Stacks of paper no longer clutter up any of the office areas. In short, the office becomes an organized utopia.
While most documents are currently created in electronic format, documents generated outside the company continually pour in as hard copies. This creates a disconnect between the ideal office environment and reality. Snail mail brings in some hard copy material which must be dealt with, however it is quickly giving way to its more efficient counterpart, email. The main culprit in this quandary continues to be faxes which flow into a business on a daily basis. These documents of varying sizes pile up and require administrative attention including sorting, filing, and eventually discarding. Unfortunately, transferring these documents back into digital form is also a time consuming process.