The paperless office has been a legend since the 1970s, and yet, it has still not come to fruition. According to Consultant News, 31 percent of companies are ordering more paper and paper tools – such as staplers, paper clips, etc – than they were five years ago.
The paperless office unrealized
CMS Wire reported the war between digital and paper has been going on for years, but hasn't made much progress. Technology is deemed to be agile and cheaper, but employees have still continued to use paper, regardless of the electronics implemented in their offices.
"We've been promised a paperless office culture for years, but it's painfully clear that dead trees aren't going to go out of fashion for a long time to come," BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall said in a statement.
CMS Wire reiterated an AIIM Industry Watch report which found despite the mobility and technology available for office workers, document management systems have yet to become suitable enough to completely eliminate paper.
Being green with paper
The way for companies to save waste, be greener and bypass the expensive digital route is to accept paper processes.
"That way we can stop killing trees to keep our companies in paper," Hall said.
Consultant News reported that many businesses prefer paper over electronic documents. It is perceived as more formal and professional while electronic documents are easy to create and deemed impersonal. If organizations instead work on creating a system that eliminates paper waste, they can make their employees comfortable by keeping a physical paper system and be greener.
One strategy to do this is creating a print quota for employees and making a sheet of how much paper is used throughout the month. Showing statistics makes the waste much more real for staff.
The issues preventing the paperless office
The problem with moving onto digital is that there are still restrictions in place. Overall, employees prefer paper. CMS Wire found that 47 percent of workers believe a lack of management initiatives and mandates prevents the company from becoming truly paperless.
Additionally, 43 percent of employees prefer handling and reading printed products. Forcing electronic documentation on these workers would be unfair, and it risks lowering employee morale.
For certain industries, legal risks can come with going paperless. According to American Medical News, electronic medical records have opened a whole new can of worms in regard to legalities. Electronic documents can easily be modified by nearly anyone, which leads to court cases like the one defense attorney Catherine Flynn is dealing with.
A New Jersey doctor has been sued for medical negligence because a patient's electronic history was modified illegally. It's been extremely difficult to even have proof since electronic records change permanently. The source highlighted how system breaches and accusations of illegal modifications are becoming more common in the healthcare world, all due to the popularity of electronic records. It's only a matter of time before these problems move into the corporate world if organizations begin to take on electronic documentation.