Most offices use a lot of paper, and for paper-intensive industries, such as the medical field, the use of paper can be exponential in comparison to other businesses. This means much higher costs and lower revenues for businesses that haven’t already made the switch to paperless documentation.

Consider the following statistics:
•    15% of paper files are either lost of misfiled, and up to 30% of an employee’s time is spent looking for lost or misfiled documents.
•    It costs a business $25,000 a year to fill a four-drawer filing cabinet with paper documents, and it costs $2,100 a year to maintain each four-drawer filing cabinet.
•    It costs a company anywhere from $1 to $100 to create and process a single invoice; however, companies using paperless documentation usually fall within the $20 or less per invoice range, while companies using traditional paper filing fall in the $20-$100 per invoice range.

Clearly there is a lot of money to be saved by converting to paperless documentation, also called electronic documentation or automated documentation. But what are some of the other reasons for going paperless, in addition to saving money?

  1.  Environmental factors– reducing paper use saves valuable resources
    2.    Save space – not only do those filing cabinets cost a lot of money to fill and maintain, they also take up a lot of office space
    3.    Ease of access – files can be stored in one place accessible from anywhere
    4.    Save time – not only does time save money, but it frees up employees to work on tasks more important than filing
    5.    Instant payment – send and receive money instantly to keep cashflow moving through the workplace
    6.    Increase security and reduce fraud – paperless records don’t get lost and software can trace every step of each business transaction

Still feeling lazy about making the switch to a paperless lifestyle? Let’s examine each of these reasons more closely to better understand the use of paper in the workplace.

1.  Going paperless is better for the environment. It’s easy to see how reducing paper saves trees, but making and recycling paper uses up a lot of other resources too. It takes 1.5 cups of water to make a single sheet of paper, and a lot of toxic gases are emitted into the air during paper production. Recycling paper requires using more water and other resources and further emits toxic gases into the air. Non-renewable fossil fuels are required to transport lumber and paper to and from the paper plants and recycling centers.

2. Saving paper means saving space. How much space does a four-drawer filing cabinet take up in your office? How many filing cabinets does your office need to store both current and archived documents? Many businesses have an entire room or section of the office devoted to document storage, while additional filing cabinets and folders find homes among employee desks and available nooks and crannies. Paper files also tend to create a lot of clutter, with filing bins and additional paper organizers that take up space on employee desktops while waiting to be permanently filed. Some businesses who have made the paperless transition have found that they were able to save money by moving to a smaller office space, while others have been able to free up more room for each employee to have their own sufficiently-sized, clutter-free workspace.

3. Electronic files equal quick and easy access. Electronic files mean that files can be accessed instantly by any employee from their computer without ever leaving their desk. And employee access can be easily restricted by user permissions if a business wants to limit the number of employees with access to files they don’t need or that have a high level of security.

4. Paperless documentation saves a lot of time. If employees’ time spent filing, retrieving files, and searching for lost files is greatly reduced, then they will have extra time on their hands to put toward less mundane tasks, important company projects, and those tasks on the office “to do” list that never seem to get accomplished. Companies that have had to make employee cutbacks in order to save money have especially enjoyed the extra time created by paperless documentation, as their remaining employees have been able to more easily absorb the extra work created by fewer employees.

5. Electronic invoicing and funds transfer allow businesses to send and receive money instantly. Not only does sending and receiving money electronically save time, space, and money, but it also keeps cash flowing through the system at a reasonable rate, so there is more revenue coming in and more liquid funds available with which to make purchases, meet payroll, and satisfy regular, monthly expenses.

6. Paperless industries enjoy higher levels of security. Unfortunately, the majority of company fraud comes from within the company or from vendors who do direct business with a company, but paperless documentation of each step of the accounts payable and receivable processes creates an unalterable record of every transaction that takes place, reducing opportunities for fraud and dishonesty. Again, the number of employees who have access to each set of documents can be limited and controlled, while employees suspected of dishonesty can be closely monitored.

If these reasons aren’t enough to convince you to convert your business to paperless, it’s a good reminder that every single one of these factors will save a business money, a fact that no successful business can afford to ignore.