In 1975, Business Week published an article written by Vincent E. Giuliano titled “The Office of the Future.” This revolutionary piece laid out the conversion of the then-traditional paper-driven job to digitally run offices using personal computers to complete tasks, store, and retrieve information, eliminating the need for paper.
Since that time, businesses have discussed, planned, and upgraded to new technologies with the goal of achieving a paperless office. In 2019, despite over 40 years of technological advancements, the paperless office is still more of a myth than a reality.
The Use of Paper in Today’s Offices
Over the past decade, companies continue to increase their use of paper despite new and upgraded software and hardware capabilities. Consider the following statistics:
- The average business increases paper use by 22% each year
- The average office employee uses 10,000 sheets of paper annually
- Employees never retrieve 20% of copies from the printer
- 45% of printed documents end up in the trash or recycling bin by the end of the day
Despite efforts by management, and the cost benefits of going paperless, paper remains a primary form of communication in the workplace.
Ironically, technology makes it easier to print more documents than ever before. Nearly all employees have access to a copier and can print a digital document with a few clicks of the mouse. The result is that more employees use more paper, despite having access to digital formats that can process and store documents and information electronically.
The Problem with Creating a Paperless Office
People Like Paper
Nearly every generation, except perhaps Gen Z, prefers paper to digital formats, including both employees and customers. The ability to hold and touch information is an important part of most transactions. Even if the company managed to eliminate paper use in offices, customers, vendors, and third-party partners would likely require printed paper for everything from contracts to product information.
Customers Still Demand Paper
Customers want printed receipts, printed contracts, and printed information to keep and file. Even if they throw the paper away shortly after the transaction, the written copy is proof of what occurred. Widely reported hacking incidents reinforce the belief that paper is more legitimate and more secure than digital copies. As long as customers and employees demand copies, companies will use paper in the course of doing business.
Software Does Not Eliminate the Need for Paper
Except in the case of customized software, most off the shelf software products do not meet all the document and processing needs of any given company. Integrating multiple software programs into a workable and functional system can become a burden on management and employees. Small and midsize companies often cannot afford the cost of custom software to meet all the companies’ digital needs, which requires most businesses to print and store information.
For example, a financial corporation may use one program to track leads and a second to track orders. Smaller offices and franchises may combine corporate software with off-the-shelf software to digitalize business activity. Without fully integrated software, an employee will likely print out more paper to keep track of leads, customers, sales, or service.
The Need for Back-Up Files
The internet is not always reliable. Digital copies get deleted, and online servers get hacked. There are situations where the lack of reliable internet service would be a serious issue. To combat this risk, employees and managers print copies for presentations, handouts, and meetings.
To protect against the deletion of digital copies, a failed hard drive, hacking, or other online crisis, customers and employees maintain physical copies of important information as a backup.
The Rise of Hacking and Ransomware
Thieves ability to illegally gain access to confidential information leaves digitalized companies at risk. Malware can erase files, hackers can steal sensitive information, and ransomware can lock critical files until thieves extract a payment. Without backup files, a breach can result in major financial losses for a company.
Rapid Technological Changes
Advancements in both hardware and software can leave companies with stored data that is difficult to access. When computers and software become obsolete, companies must invest in new technologies along with the cost of transferring data to the new system. The process leaves companies constantly upgrading to maintain accurate and accessible files. Paper files do not face the same challenges, leaving many small to mid-sized companies relying heavily on paper files.
Regulations Require a Paper-trail
Regulatory agencies often require paper files of certain documents and transactions. Companies must store required information in a secure location for a certain number of years. Auditors and government regulators have open access to those files.
Companies also combat system vulnerabilities with regard to information sharing. Files downloaded onto a flash drive or emailed to another employee or client, increases the risk of a security breach. For example, sharing files via email can increase the company’s liability. An errant email or file, containing confidential data, and seen by the wrong person, can become a million-dollar mistake.
How Do Companies Store Paper Securely?
In most cases information storage comes in one of three formats:
- A filing cabinet or desk drawers
- Electronic files. For example, Word, Excel, or PDF documents
Securing Physical Data
A paperless office can be an elusive goal, which makes it necessary to find secure ways to store physical data containing sensitive, confidential, or proprietary information.
Senseon technology converts traditional lock and keys into a modern-day RFID Cabinet Locking System to secure sensitive data stored in office file cabinets and drawers. These adaptable locks include additional security measures such as an auto-relock function to ensure drawers remain secure even if an employee fails to lock the drawer. The invisible design is not apparent to an outsider, preventing thieves from immediately identifying secure areas and additional locking break force to prevent lock failure.
With the latest technological advancements, the Senseon keyless locking system integrates into existing access control and building management systems or works as a stand-alone locking system to secure cabinet doors, file cabinets, and more in financial institutions. To learn more, visit our contact page to discuss your security needs!