Cut Paper Before it Cuts You

once you know the details of paper production and use, it’s not as easy to ignore...

“A clean, well-lighted place” is more than the name of a great Ernest Hemingway short story. It’s a phrase that can also be used to describe the perfect office space. For a long time, one of the constant fixtures of that perfect image has been its “paperless” nature. The ideal office of the future has always been seen as running like a well-oiled machine. It is imagined as being state-of-the-art, efficient and effective. Clean.

As is the case with so many images of the future, though, ideas about the paperless office never include a sufficient accounting for the human element. We homo sapiens are kinda traditional. We’re stuck in our ways. We like doing things the old-fashioned way – not always because of sentimentality, but because it’s easy. It’s not difficult to be aspirational and to talk a good game, but we’re less than dependable when it comes to putting the rubber to the road. It can seem as though the deck is stacked (with more paper!) against us.

It’s no coincidence that in our industry, we’re especially interested in topics like technology and the paperless office. Obviously, the subjects affect us. It’s that “clean” idea from earlier that really drives us, though. We get excited at the notion of helping bring about real, lasting change in the office space, no matter the type of organization.

paperless office chase

Cutting back on paper usage can benefit not only your business, but the world in which that business thrives. What follows are some reasons why making that concerted effort to go paperless can help bring about that dreamed-of future.

Build a Better Business with a Paperless Office

  • Reducing Costs – Less money spent on copiers, ink, toner, staplers, filing cabinets, pens, pencils, binders, hole-punches, paper clips, etc. Plus, all the labor it takes to collect and organize!
  • What’s Lost is Not Found – According to AIIM, 7% of all documents are lost, while 15% are misfiled in one way or another. Paper gets handled a lot, with every physical transaction increasing the likelihood of misplacement.
  • Storage! Storage!! Storage!!! – Many companies have file cabinets. Some need whole rooms in which to store those cabinets. Some companies elect – or are required – to hang on to those papers for years after they’re needed (for a variety of reasons). That storage might happen on- or off-site. That real estate is expensive and requires maintenance.
  • Minimizing Risk – Lost paperwork occurs for reasons other than absent-mindedness. There’s fire and flooding, too. What’s more, certain kinds of businesses – like legal and medical – have compliance reasons for being able to access information quickly and easily. They want to make sure that information is complete. Not knowing if your files are complete and/or secure can have very debilitating consequences.
  • It’s Not About You – Your customers are your most important asset. When they call in with a complaint or a question, you want to be able to quickly access the information they need. Paper files and forms need to be collected from disparate locations, which can slow down response times and lower customer satisfaction. If you don’t have ready access to the right information, your customers will notice.

Build a Better World with a Paperless Office

Now, couple those facts with the knowledge that

  • U.S. offices use 12.1 trillion sheets of paper in a year
  • Printing a Sunday edition of the New York Times requires 75,000 trees (93% of paper comes from trees)
  • Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste and 33% of municipal waste
  • Every tree produces enough oxygen for 3 people to breathe
  • Recycling 1 ton of paper saves around 682.5 gallons of oil, 26,000 liters of water and 17 trees

It’s not just the forests that are decimated around the world. It’s the excess oil that’s used to fuel the mills and the trucks and trains used to move the raw materials and the finished products around the world. Once you know the details of paper production and use, it’s not as easy to ignore.

If you’ve ever seen an episode of “Hoarders” on A&E, you’ve seen the word “excess” made manifest. People live in surroundings packed with stuff. Actually, “packed” doesn’t do the scenes justice, does it? In those unsightly homes, all manner of things are stacked from floor to ceiling. Newspapers, pizza boxes, shopping bags and even garbage is everywhere. It covers the furniture, the appliances, the stairs and sometimes even blocks all exits. All that is to say nothing of the sometimes disturbing things that are found underneath all those … treasures. Paper – and many other items – are in ample supply.

We are not suggesting, of course, that a television network create a show about excessive paper usage in some of today’s offices. Without the surprise cat carcass discovered every now and again, it just wouldn’t have the same appeal as that other show. No, the modern office is of course somewhere in the middle between the two extremes we’ve talked about. It is, certainly, very real.

Going 100% paperless is the ideal. It’s something to aim for, truly. When you consider all the good it can do you, your business and the world, why wouldn’t you go for broke? Plus … papercuts! I mean… ouch!

Posted by: Eric Schwabenlender
This entry was posted in Document Scanning, Electronic Document Management, Information Management and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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