The idea of the paperless office was first theorized in a 1975 Business Week article that discussed how the personal computer revolution would put an end to paper records and book keeping. Now, some thirty-four years later, while the type of information contained in paper form has changed, more than ever businesses are inundated with paper records.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others report:
- The average office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year.
- A reduction in a ton of paper production saves the equivalent of 4,100 kWh of energy and 7,000 gallons of water.
- Each employee in a typical business office generates 1.5 lbs of waste paper per day.
Each year, businesses spend significant resources printing, filing, storing, and retrieving paper documents. Every aspect of the paper storage process adversely impacts a business’ budget and the environment as a whole. Some of the more obvious financial drawbacks of paper storage include purchasing paper, spending personnel resources filing and finding documents, increasing square footage for physical file storage, and recovering from disastrous flood or fire damage.
In addition to financial costs, the environmental impacts cannot be ignored. The production process to produce paper stock requires harvesting trees, consumes significant energy leading to increased greenhouse gases, and involves chemicals that we weren’t allowed to touch in chemistry class. Storing filing cabinets in your office consumes additional real estate which has associated heating/cooling requirements and more.
Now the good news: there is an alternative to using so much paper that reduces your carbon footprint. Businesses now have affordable paperless office solutions that not only increase productivity, but also make any environmentalist green with envy. So what are paperless office solutions you ask?
Paperless office solutions are business software applications designed for digitally storing documents into a repository. Documents can include anything from invoices, to emails, to contracts, to health records – you name it. As the documents are stored in the system, they are associated with index information referred to as metadata attributes. The metadata indexes provide users a means to quickly query documents using a web browser or other client application and retrieve the documents electronically on the computer screen.
For many paperless office solutions, also known as a document management system, storing, indexing, and retrieving documents is one of numerous capabilities they offer an organization. Additional functionality includes electronic routing of documents for approval, email archive, records retention management, document scanning, optical character recognition (OCR), online collaboration with vendors and suppliers, security, disaster recovery, reporting, and more.
To learn more about how a document management system offers companies a sustainable business alternative to paper-intensive processes, read up on our paperless office solutions. Also, we’ve recently been included in Construction Specification Institute’s new GreenFormat listing – it offers a fast-and-easy approach to evaluating green product information.