A Paperless Workplace

Posted on 23rd January 2013 by Chris Grieve

If you’ve ever spent too long hunting through stacks of paper for an invoice or searching through paper files, you may have wished for a paperless office. You wouldn’t be alone.

As soon as computers began appearing on office desks so did the idea of paperless, electronic communication.

At GeersSullivan we have been making the transition to a paperless environment for several years now. Although we do not believe that our industry will ever achieve the ultimate goal of being entirely paperless, we have significantly reduced our use of paper through the following initiatives:

  1. Investing in hardware and software that securely captures and stores scanned documents.
  2. Implementing a paperless working paper system used in the preparation of monthly management reports, year end financial statements and tax returns.
  3. Provision of dual screens (and sometimes even more) for all staff.
  4. Providing all our staff with iPads to use as document readers during client meetings and at staff training.

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:

  1. Reduced costs and quicker access to information – the obvious cost saving is the purchase of paper and usage charges on our photocopiers however the other major benefit is the reduced environmental impact.
  2. More space – The more we grow the more team members we need which require more space. By reducing our filing cabinet space we can better use this space to seat staff.
  3. Document security and easy information sharing – Password protection at different levels limits the access that office staff have to the information. We can also send electronic copies of all documents anywhere in the world at the click of a button.
  4. Ability to handle company growth – our system is scalable and will not require any additional investment to be able to handle significant increases in volume.
  5. Access anywhere – increasingly we find ourselves out of the office with clients. We can log in from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection and directly upload or download information to our portable devices.
  6. Mass communication – this newsletter is a great example of how through the use of technology we can cost effective communicate to our clients.
  7. Employer of choice – As we continue to recruit the best people from a generation who are computer literate we consider our use of technology to appeal to those individuals seeking to work with a progressive forward thinking organisation which sets us apart from our competitors.

The above are but a few of the benefits we have experienced in the short time we have been embracing the paperless environment. For some businesses and some parts of business operations – like those in the healthcare industry and some ASIC records, paper records may be a regulatory requirement. However a move toward paperless no matter how small can result in some benefits described above.

So what does the future hold? As our staff will embrace the concept of a paperless work place we seem to frequently come up with new ideas on how to use the technology available to us to reduce the use of paper, some of these include:

  • Sending clients year end financials and tax returns on a disk, USB or other format
  • Using our iPads to take meeting notes then uploading them directly into our server.
  • Having iPads in reception for our clients to read magazine subscriptions and place their coffee order with Maria our receptionist.
  • Taking photos of meeting notes on whiteboards and uploading them directly onto our server for future reference.

The process of going paperless can be daunting. There are the costs of new equipment and software to consider, as well as that of converting paper records into electronic files. And there are decisions about how to make the move and when, how much existing paper to convert, how to handle paper that continues to flow in from vendors and customers, how to get employees onboard with the idea and trained in new systems, and how to simply keep doing business as usual during the conversion.

As always we are happy we are happy to assist our client in this process through sharing our experience and using our network of experts in this area.

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