Advantages & Disadvantages Of The Paperless Office

In the 1980s it was widely thought that offices around the world would be using paperless offices as a standard approach to business by the mid-90s. This simply has not happened to the degree expected and there has actually been an increase in the amount of paper we use since the mid-90s.

Image by Joe Penner

But why is this? There seems to be a great amount of advantages when it comes to having a paperless office but there is still a dependency on having documentation and info physically. Along with the advantages of having a paperless office, there is also an array of disadvantages.

Advantages
Of course the best function of the paperless office is that it is significantly better for the environment. But the main attraction from a business point of view to use a paperless office is to save money on the high costs of printing. Companies waste thousands each year on print but a paperless office can eliminate the need for multiple copies by having an easy accessible intranet and shared docs.

The bulkiness of the office is also radically reduced as filing can all be stored on the intranet, without additional filing cabinets overcrowding the office. This also makes it easier to find documents instantly and therefore improves productivity by eliminating the time to go and get the necessary documentation.

Companies can also build multiple databases with their information and can back up their data online with cloud software. The business files can also be protected from damage or theft that could possibly happen to physical copies.

Disadvantages
Many people do not realise the actual cost of setting up a paperless office. Depending on the size and capabilities of the office, the company may have to upgrade their computer hardware and software to a compatible level to run daily paperless office functions. The costs of buying a new scanner and new computers can be very high and unnecessary expenditure that a lot of businesses just cannot afford.

The business may also have to employ an IT person in order to run a paperless office effectively. Someone will need to make regular back-ups, monitor/manage updates for hardware and software, as well as train new users on how to use the systems. This additional cost and added process can sometimes far out way the advantages of having a paperless office for many businesses.

The paperless office is also vulnerable to various online security breaches such as computer virus, privacy issues, and hackers trying to access company information. If the businesses security settings are not top of the range and updated they run the risk to be affected by these online security issues. Even huge companies such as T-Mobile have lost millions of subscribers’ personal data stolen to hackers.

Is the Paperless Office Achievable?
One day paperless offices will be the standard process in which companies operate, but it will not be any day soon. The costs of setting up and constantly updating software to be compatible with a paperless office are an unnecessary cost for many companies. Also, human error and the risk of hackers will forever be problematic for running a paperless office.

Businesses need to have physical paper work for contracts, government documents and employment forms that need to be printed on paper even if the company can store their files digitally. Therefore businesses aiming to have a paperless office need to realise that there is still a need for paper documents and the world is not quite yet ready to go paperless.

When do you think paperless offices will become the standard way in which we do business?

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James Duval is passionate about the technological advancements that are changing how the world operates. He writes various blogs for Cartridge Shop about technology and business.