Are you considering implementing some changes to how you handle the paperwork for your business? Many companies are opting to make their processes paperless due to the many advantages this approach offers. But this is an extreme departure from the way most organizations do business, so it won’t be easy. Here are some of the benefits of going paperless and how robots can help your business accomplish this goal.
What is a Paperless Workplace?
A paperless workplace is one that uses minimal physical paper and instead relies primarily on digital documents. The process of converting paper files into electronic ones is called “digitization.”
Despite the widespread availability of email and electronic documents, most companies still rely on paper. But there are some significant benefits to adopting paperless policies, and technology solutions are now available to make this a simple process.
Top 8 Reasons to Go Paperless
U.S. companies spend more than $120 billion annually on printed forms alone. Many businesses are opting to do away with paper and create a paperless workplace environment. If your business is still using an antiquated paper-based system, here are some of the reasons it’s time to start thinking about using robots to go paperless.
One of the biggest reasons to go paperless is what it can do for your productivity. A fully digitized business means less printing and filling out forms, less manual tracking, and more time for workers to spend on tasks that matter to your business and its customers.
For a paperless workplace to work efficiently, it needs a connection to a powerful workplace management system. With one of these solutions, you’ll get fillable forms, intuitive filing systems, and customized reporting that improves productivity.
2. Data Accuracy
Human workers can make mistakes. And in busy workplace environments with a lot of paper, errors will be even more commonplace. Paperless systems are one way to reduce errors because figures can be cross-checked or captured automatically from technology like RFID tags. As you improve the accuracy of your data capture, you also boost efficiency and lower costs.
3. Real-Time Visibility
One of the major issues with using paper is the time it takes to get information from Point A to Point B. These delays can be frustrating and costly. When you eliminate the paper, your operations can keep running more efficiently as activity is captured and analyzed in real-time.
This real-time visibility means that all stakeholders, even business partners, can get access to information like inventory levels, shipping status, and other valuable information. It also means that managers have the information they need at their fingertips to make the most up-to-date business decisions.
4. Cost Savings
There might be some upfront costs to going paperless. But in the long term, this strategy will save your company a ton of money. Paperless workplaces can process larger volumes of paperwork compared to those that still shuffle paper.
Further, digitization reduces overall costs in terms of paper, ink, printers, postage, and office space required to manage and store files. Employee time savings are another big “win” since workers can spend their time on more productive tasks.
Most companies must adhere to certain regulations, whether they relate to health and safety, financial matters, or something else. Paper-based systems can make tracking and managing compliance tedious and prone to costly errors. Electronic management systems provide a simple means to track compliance, fill out necessary forms electronically, and submit them online.
Collaboration is challenging when there are reams of paper involved. It can be time-consuming and inefficient. By making all communication electronic, collaboration can happen in real-time. People in engineering can collaborate with those in manufacturing, purchasing, sales, shipping, and more. This setup also creates greater transparency which improves communication and ensures that everyone is making decisions based on the same data.
Physical documents are challenging to track — stacks of paper can get destroyed, misfiled, or lost without anyone noticing. It can also be tough to monitor the access, copying, and printing of sensitive paper files. When you go paperless, you can implement various security protocols to address these issues. You can establish access rights according to system or user level or the particular document. You can also create access and audit trails for digital files.
Producing paper products creates greenhouse gases, leading to deforestation and global warming. Recycling can offset some of these environmental impacts, but not all of them. A lot of paper ends up in the local landfill. And there is also the toner and ink to consider. Going paperless is a much more sustainable choice.
How Robots Can Help Companies Go Paperless
There are essentially two approaches companies can take to go paperless. One is to convert existing paper documents to digital ones. The other is to avoid using paper in the first place. Fortunately, robots can help with both.
Robot Assistance With Digitization
Apple, Inc’s co-founder Steve Wozniak recently backed robotic digitization company Ripcord. Ripcord “robots,” known as “workcells” will receive paper files, remove staples, perform 90% of the required indexing of materials, create high-resolution, searchable PDFs, and then shred the documents for recycling.
The idea behind Ripcord is that many businesses are paralyzed by the idea of going paperless because they have accumulated too darn much paper. And using robots to accomplish the conversion process reduces human error and protects data from potential security breaches.
Going paperless is a major commitment for many organizations because of this initial digitization project. Just this year, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) contracted with Ripcord to archive its massive cache of paper tax filing records.
Robots for Ongoing Paperless Systems
Once you digitize your existing records, the idea is that you don’t create more of them. Robots and automation solutions are helping companies with ongoing paperless systems.
Instead of printing out forms for tracking, employee assignments, or checklists, robots either handle the work through automation or convey the information to workers via handheld devices or using voice technology. When workers need to confirm something, they can do so with a digital signature or by using their voice. All of this data is stored on the system and becomes searchable. Even better, it’s available in real time so stakeholders can use the information to make more informed business decisions.
Although discussions for paperless workplaces have been happening for decades, some businesses are beginning to make progress on this front, thanks to a combination of robotics and AI. Unfortunately, there are still some obstacles to contend with, such as human habits. Regardless, going paperless offers enough benefits to organizations that its adoption will become even more widespread in the coming years.