Going paperless can bring big advantages to your business, saving money and resources, improving transparency, and helping the environment at a time when deforestation is very much in the news.
Why do businesses still use paper?
There are several reasons why businesses still use paper. According to a recent article by Louella Fernandes, director of quocirca.com – a provider of market insight and intelligence to print industry business and technology leaders – many businesses remain reliant on print to some extent. Quocirca’s Global Print 2025 study shows that 64 per cent of businesses believe that printing will be important to their daily business in six years’ time.
The business advantages of going paperless
While it’s clear that not every business has the ability or desire to ditch paper immediately, there are clear business advantages to reducing paper waste from your daily work life.
It can enable you to maintain a better degree of control over the various aspects of your business, for example by establishing a clear audit trail of your agreements on digital platforms. This could bring legal benefits.
Going fully digital can also save time, freeing staff from administrative chores like printing, scanning and tracking documents and enabling them to focus on higher-value tasks.
It can boost transparency, allowing for quick insights and access at every stage of the process: for example, DocuSign eSignature enables stakeholders to see who has a contract and whether they have signed or not.
Aside from direct impacts on your business, going paperless can also provide indirect benefits, such as an improved reputation among customers and the public. It can also contribute to your in-house environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) targets and play a role in your corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme too.
How businesses can go paperless
But just how easy is it to go paperless? Technology is a key enabler, though even the invention of email didn’t stop the flow of paper, with customers having to sign, scan and email documents to clients for them to print, sign, and fax signatures back.
There are other options that companies can pursue to curtail their paper use through technology, sometimes with dramatic results. A good example is digital receipts, sent through an app or via email, which can cut back significantly on paper usage depending on the industry in question (with retail a clear example of an area that could stand to particularly benefit).
Going paperless and turning to digital can involve increased use of expensive equipment like laptops or portable digital payment devices, which can be particularly challenging for smaller firms. However, there are options to address this.
In a blog post on ways for small businesses to go paperless, the energy company Constellation noted the benefits of leasing such equipment, through which “you can save on up-front costs, repairs, upgrades and equipment maintenance fees”.
Going paperless and sustainability
As shown by the global reaction to the Amazon fires of summer 2019, we live in an age of unprecedented concern over deforestation.
Going paperless can have a clear impact in this area, saving forests and contributing to environmental sustainability at large.
It’s clear that customers and investors are increasingly focused on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues. In such a context, it’s worth noting that going paperless could have a significant business benefit from a reputational perspective as well. Going paperless can save time too, helping you improve on time wasting habits at work and in your personal life.
Summary: Going paperless
Going paperless gives businesses the option to benefit from streamlined processes, cost savings and better security of important documents. It can also play a role in addressing wider ethical and moral responsibilities that are important to consumers, such as deforestation.
While it can be a challenge to go paperless, in a digital age it should surely be a consideration for any forward-looking business.
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