There are many benefits with a paperless office, beyond simply having less paper to deal with. While you're unlikely to have a completely paper-free office, electronic communication and other systems can eliminate much of it. Let's take a closer look at how this has benefited some businesses:
- Reduced costs and quicker access to information. MajesticInvites.com is an eight-person company that designs online invitations. Being paperless saves the company about $100,000 per year on printing, mailing, paper and storage space, reports Alina Uzilov, the company's president. And because employees can access electronic documents more quickly than paper, they can almost instantly respond to customer questions or make their changes [source: Small Business Computing].
- More space. When he got ready to switch locations after making his office paperless, real estate broker Ed Branson of Branson's California Property noticed that he didn't even have half as many file cabinets as before going paperless [source: Microsoft.com]. Photographer: Peterfactor | Agency: Dreamstime Many doctors' offices are transitioning to electronic medical records.
- Document security and easy information sharing. Obstetrician Rose Kung, M.D., found storing and retrieving paper patient charts was time consuming for her practice at Women's College Hospital in Toronto. Switching to an electronic document management system reduced chart filing and finding time -- and improved security of patient information. Password protection at different levels limits the access that office staff have to the information. Kung can also send electronic copies of patient records to physicians anywhere in the world [source: A&L Computer Software Limited].
- Ability to handle company growth. Transervice Logistics in Lake Success, N.Y., helps companies manage their delivery systems. The human resources staff found they had more than 30,000 pieces of paper to track and store in their 1,000 employee records. With that information now stored electronically, the department was able to handle the addition of 500 employees (potentially 15,000 more pieces of paper) without needing additional space.
- Access anywhere and electronic prescriptions. South Shore Skin Care Center, near Boston, has switched to an electronic medical records (EMR) system from paper patient charts. With the EMR, doctors can access patient information from anywhere at any time. They can also send electronic prescriptions directly to pharmacies [source: dBusiness News].
- Less paper in. A company plans to accept paper faxes from customers. However, the company uses electronic faxing to intercept those faxes, turn them into electronic documents and keep them from coming into the company as paper.
- Less temporary paper. At dentist Kambiz Moin's office in Manchester, N.H., not only are patient charts electronic, but also patient arrivals. A patient who arrives for an appointment types his or her name in a waiting room computer and puts a finger on a biometric reader. Their arrival is then posted on the office computers, color coded to show an early, on-time or late arrival [source: Orthodontic Products Online].
- 8. Less paper out. Tax professional Joseph Anthony in Portland, Ore., files clients tax returns electronically, eliminating paper returns, and then turns the return into a PDF document that he gives the client on a rewriteable CD. The next year, the client brings back the CD to have another year's return added [source: Microsoft.com].
Taken one step at a time, moving toward a more paperless office doesn't have to be difficult. Go to the next page for some steps to put the process in motion.