Office’s may be digital, but are they paperless?

All companies are preaching digital transformation, from young tech startups to legacy financial institutions. In fact, 80% of business are trying to go digital. But one major misconception is that digital and paperless offices are one in the same.

While moving to electronic processes is the first step of digital transformation, it’s not the only component. From sharing documents to on-boarding a new hire, many businesses have easily integrated digital processes, but a vast majority still rely on paper.

>See also: Four reasons your business should be going paperless

Companies in the US spend a combined total of $120 billion on printed forms annually, and each employee uses about 10,000 sheets of paper, according to CompTIA. Aside from the obvious benefits of saving money and sustainability, a paperless office runs much more efficiently and offers clearer step-by-step operations and better organisation.

Identifying the difference

Before understanding how to improve paper processes, business leaders have to understand whether their office is truly paperless or simply digital. Here are a few factors that can help decision-makers understand the difference:


A common sign of a solely digital office is one that uses electronic components for part of a process, but paper for others. For example, while signed contracts and other documents might be initially shared via email, they are printed for the signature, and then uploaded and re-shared digitally. Here are a few key distinguishers of a digital office:

• Employees use printers periodically, or at least once per quarter.
• Paper documents are scanned in order to email them.
• Documents are printed in order to be signed, and then scanned back into the system to send electronically.
• Processes in place for paper filing.

>See also: The rise of digital printing in a paperless world


From time-off requests to client-facing documents, all workflows are fulfilled electronically in a paperless company. Automation has been a major force behind the paperless push. A majority (84%) of electronic documents are signed within one day due to automation. Here are three common attributes of paperless businesses:

• Use electronic document storage for additional security.
• Use a document management system for electronic storage and filing.
 Request and sign documents electronically.

Due to the rise of cloud-based applications and workflow solutions, a growing number of companies have the option to establish paperless processes. Digitisation and automation technologies can streamline workflows that were once manual, and often times, ones that required paper components. But more times than not, these types of workflows and systems are established within a department, and less commonly across the whole company.

>See also: Paper free progress: World Paper Free Day

Solutions for electronic storage and signatures, document management and workflow automation offer digitisation across the entire company. In moving to a digital model, businesses are adopting new technologies and solutions to eliminate paper and establish company-wide best practices. In vetting these products, decision-makers must ensure that products to improve digital workflows can cultivate a paperless standard.

As more businesses begin to transform to a digital model, it’s important to understand the path to a truly paperless office. Without methods that increase efficiency, organisation and save money, companies will not reap the benefits by going digital. Instead, a transformation will cost time and other resources, and ultimately, leave businesses largely unchanged.


Sourced by Todd Neal, SaaS product manager of OnTask


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...