Paperless Office | New Life Office
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Paperless Office

17 Sep Paperless Office

Whatever happened to the paperless office? With today’s amazing technology, we have the capacity to contain whole filing cabinets of information on just one CD-ROM.


Look at what the following can hold:

  • One floppy disk: 750 sheets of paper, about a five-inch stack of typed pages
  • 100 MB hard disk: contents of a four-drawer filing cabinet

  • CD-ROM: entire roomful of paper


Saving paper can mean fewer file cabinets, which can reduce your office space needs dramatically. It’s estimated to cost over $2,000 each year to maintain a filing cabinet and about $25,000 to fill it. These costs include the labor and paper costs. One estimate even states that about 3 percent of your filing cabinet documents will become misplaced, and it will cost about $120 in labor to find each one. On the other hand, storing files on disk or CD-ROM is much less expensive in human time and in storage space.


According to Joseph Anthony, a Portland tax specialist who writes about small business finance, many people who use computers for home or business are moving toward a “paperless” office. Simply, people are tired and overwhelmed by scraps of paper, old file folders, envelopes – and they want to reduce the clutter. Many folks have made at least a partial move to a paperless office. They’re doing so this way: by using scanners instead of copying machines, sending electronic faxes instead of paperfaxes, storing information electronically instead of in filing cabinets, giving friends, clients or vendors information on CD’s or through Internet attachments instead of in bound folders. In short, they’re getting greater return on their hardware, software and technology investments.


Here are 6 things that Mr. Anthony suggests to keep in mind as you move toward a paperless home or business office:


  1. Without paper, make sure you’re backing up files. In the traditional backup system, you would make a photocopy of a document and put it in a properly-labeled folder that can later be retrieved from a filing cabinet. Many people and businesses develop electronic filing systems that mimic the old paper systems, using Microsoft Word or customized programs for storing documents by type of document, client, project or other prioritization. But those files can’t just be created — they have to be backed up as well. Backup solutions can include backing up to second hard drives, to removable drives or to Internet and off-site locations to minimize the risk of loss of data from a computer failure. So, the message here is to have a system in place for regular and consistent backing up of your information.


  2. Realize that a paperless office doesn’t happen overnight. Your home office or business won’t go from all-paper one day to paperless the next. It’s a progression. You might start out by scanning all incoming bills into your system, and then expand to include all general business correspondence. Initially, you might even find you’re creating more work instead of less — especially if you run a business.

  3. You’ll need to rearrange your office — a good thing. There usually aren’t tremendous savings of office space when you first start focusing on using less paper. After all, you still have all those paper documents housed in your big, clunky file cabinets. At some point during your transition to a paperless office, however, the difference in your physical storage space will become apparent.

  4. “Paperless” often really means “less paper.” Yes, it’s possible to scan all received documents into your computer, and to store all in-house documents in your system as well. You can virtually eliminate paper faxes by generating faxes on your computer and having in-bound faxes delivered to your computer system. You can even electronically sign or signature-stamp outgoing documents. But you’re still likely to have some paper floating through your office. Not all of your clients or customers will want to be billed electronically. Some vendors will still want to communicate by snail mail. And tax and regulatory requirements could force you to either do some current business on paper or to keep hard copies of your past home or business records.

  5. Everyone has to buy in. Merely saying as head of household, owner or manager of a business that you want those around you to embrace your paperless office doesn’t make it so. Your partner, spouse, family members or staff has to buy into the transition as a permanently-new way of doing business. Change can be difficult. People who have been making photocopies, sending paper faxes, putting documents into legal sized folders — or saving mounds of mail and catalogues that they just can’t part with — are going to have to change their perceptions. They will have to learn new routines that they already feel skilled at.

  6. Realize that less paper is just the beginning of the payoff. The most visible impact of a move to a paperless office is the reduction in the cost of printing, mailing, shipping and storing paper. Over time, lots of other benefits should become apparent: Less time spent looking for paper lost in the shuffle. Fewer hours looking for bills, documents and, if you’re in business, copies of client documents. The ability to access all sorts of information from computer files — in a matter of seconds without having to search your office. If you’ve got a home office that serves as a satellite office of a business, you can have access to all of your business files, using a product like Terminal Services or other software, even if you’re not at your business location. In short, change can be hard — but it can be profitable.

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