What happened to organizations going paperless?

Jesse Meijers

There are very few organizations that work paperless. Recent research has even shown that paperless is no longer a priority for most managers. This seems strange, given the huge increase in mobile working. What’s more, a paperless organization offers a lot of benefits!

Pessimistic about paperless

Organizations are still printing a lot and the current expectation is that this will not change in the near future. In recent years, paperless has even become less popular among managers.

This is intriguing, because cloud applications have gotten safer, faster and less expensive. In other words, transitioning to a paperless office has never been easier. Add to that the proven advantages of paperless: improved accessability allowing better communication with colleagues, which leads to higher productivity. So why are so many organizations still printing stacks of paper every day?

The numbers of paperless

To get a good view on the advantages of paperless, let’s take a quick look at some facts about the use of paper and the interest in paperless:

  • 53% of managers is interested in working paperless
  • 84% of users still work on desktop computers
  • 71% of people says paperless is not applicable to every project
  • On average people still print 22.1 sheets per day
  • Managers print more than others (29.4 prints per day versus 17.8 prints per day)

Unnecessary fear

Why do so few organizations prioritize paperless, while the technology is readily available? Accessibility doesn’t seem to be an argument, since digital data is more easily accessible than paper, and from every location.

Is it management that fears security of information that is stored elsewhere? In my experience, this is no longer an argument that managers use. Most companies use at least some form of (private) cloud storage, even for confidential information.

Add to this that modern cloud applications are very safe, and it seems that fears that used to exist, nowadays are no longer founded.

Digital communication mindset

The real issue is the mindset that organizations have when it comes to digitalization. Most organizations focus on digitizing paper. But simply replacing a sheet of paper with a PDF document does not yield the expected results. And more importantly, it doesn’t leverage the real power that digitalization has to offer.

Going paperless requires rethinking of processes. Things that are now on a single piece of paper, might have more value when split and recombined with other data. Some information that is now always filled out, may only be necessary in a very specific situation. Rethinking processes with a digital mindset is key to going paperless.

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