How paperless is your office?

5 December 2016

4 min read

The paperless office is an admirable goal but realistically many businesses rely on hard copies of documents too much to give them up.

How paperless is your office? (Desktop)

The paperless office. Does it really exist? We’d all like to think so but in reality we’re more likely to print an important document than rely on a soft copy on our laptops and smart phones.

While it’s important to print less to decrease the environmental impact and cost, there are still valid reasons for why people in the modern workplace need to print.

Remote workers need to print

As the office as we know it changes into a fluid mix between remote working and in-house employees, there’s been a dramatic shift in how, and why, people print. If you’re spending most of the time away from your desk at your home office or

“Paper is portable, universal and familiar way to share and annotate documents,” said Ken Weilerstein, research VP at Gartner. “It is easier to read long documents on paper than on-screen.” 

Remote workers often rely on smaller screen sizes while on the go, which means reading and reviewing documents is increasingly difficult. It’s not always possible to dock with a screen or use a laptop, so the obvious choice is to print everything you need and take it with you to read or present to clients and customers.

Employees actually become more dependent on printing as a way to digitise documents and make them more easily available.

Compliance and cost are driving business process change

Relying on the way you’ve always done things with paper is inefficient. It can harm productivity and increases cost. Over 80% of respondents to a Quocirca survey say improved efficiency was a leading reason to digitise processes, closely followed by regulatory compliance and reducing costs. Unsurprisingly the most common areas mentioned for digitisation were in the following:

  • Records management (41%)
  • Claims processing (32%)
  • Accounts payable/receivable (30%)

Hard choices for hard copies

Paper is comfortable. It’s real and tangible and feels more trustworthy than a digital copy. Contracts, receipts and being able to have ‘real’ signatures are all part of the perceived value of using paper documents.

There’s also a geographical preference when it comes to the use of paper. In Germany 70% say a physical signature is of top importance to them. The UK shows the highest staff preference for paper at 54% - France is at 30%.

There was also a large variance between industries as well: 75% of financial service organisations said that paper signatures were the main reason for using print, which contrasts sharply with 40% of people in the public sector. However, 53% of public sector respondents had a preference for paper compared to 30% in financial services.

It was also noted that 50% of the public sector noted a cultural resistance to using less paper, compared with 28% in the financial sector.

There are certain departments in all businesses which rely on hard copy documents for a whole range of things. Most people would expect the security of a physical contract when they started a new job. Or the tangibility of a new starter pack when they arrive.

It’s difficult to imagine departments such as HR, accounting and legal not creating printed documents for years to come.

“Paper is universally accepted as valid for contracts and other legal documents, and the signatures are familiar and accepted to a greater degree than any sort of digital signature.” Said Ken Weilerstein.

You can print from anywhere

In the past the trend for personal printers on desks moved to shared, multi-format printers. This small barrier to instant printing made usage dip but the rise of mobile changed everything.

Mobile devices are more prevalent than ever and with them has come to ability to print anything using apps and ePrint services. Been emailed a PDF while you’re on the go? No problem, just send it to direct to the printer from your smart phone and it’ll be there waiting when you’re ready. 

The ease at which you can print from anywhere makes people print more.

Just start printing better

It’s inevitable that you’re going to need to print, so the key is printing sensibly and economically. Most companies don’t know how much they’re spending, which is where a company like HP can help. A managed print services partner will look at your existing usage, find out how to make it cheaper and more environmentally friendly and then provide the best printers for your needs.

The most digitally focused businesses have invested in MPS. This isn’t just about providing printers and managing ink – MPS are there to help businesses to make real changes in their organisation.

Quocirca found that the leading MPS providers were offering full business process automation instead, instead of just helping to take it from print to digital. Their studies found that HP MPS stood out for a number of reasons:

  • HP provides the perfect framework to analyse workflow needs and propose tailored solutions. The Strategic Business Reviews provide expertise and tools that identify areas to focus on, model the financial impact of the improvements and create a roadmap for implementing the changes.
  • HP makes content management easy, with a wealth of proprietary technology and engines that are used to help businesses automate processes, perform data analysis and aid management of customer communication.
  • HP Inc. delivers ECM solutions that integrate document capture hardware and truly differentiate document workflow solutions from competitors.

To discover more about how MPS can change your business process transformation strategy, get in touch. In the meantime, check out more great content from BusinessNow.