Go paperless, save money

The paperless office has been much prophesied but has never really materialized even in our increasingly digital world. Many offices are still buried under piles of paper and stacks of files. Going paperless, or even just implementing a system to cut down on the amount of paper used, is generally more in the category of wishes for a business, not in the category of needs.

An AIIM report noted that just 17 percent of offices have moved to a paperless process, showing just how little traction this idea has gained. But for companies thinking about taking the paperless plunge, there are myriad advantages. That same study found that 84 percent of businesses that do implement a paperless system see a return on investment in less than 18 months. So going paperless is a net benefit once a company gets past the process of implementation.

A paperless office saves money in a variety of ways, from printing to distribution to storage.

"Paper can be expensive to use for something so simple."

Save on printing
Paper can be expensive to use for something so simple.According to an InformIT report, the average employee uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year at a cost of roughly $80 per year per employee, and that's just the cost of the paper. Printing has extra associated expenses, such as the price of purchasing, maintaining the printers and the price of ink. Every printed piece of paper costs a company money, and few of the printed sheets do anything to bring money in. Most printed documents in an office are for internal use and do not contribute positively to the bottom line.  By moving to a system where more tasks are done in the digital space, a business saves money in all of these areas.

Save on storage
One of the biggest expenses a company has is often its physical office space. A business is paying a lease and lights as well as heating and cooling. All of these costs go up the larger a space gets. In many modern offices, stored paper takes up much of the room. Unlike employees, however, paper is dead space - much of it doesn't contribute to a companies  revenue in any way. In a paperless system, many of the records stored around an office could be digitized and the physical copies thrown out. With the reduction in paper, the amount of room a business needs to operate could also be reduced. That extra area could be used to bring in new employees that will contribute to the company, making more money. Or a business that reduces its space requirements could find that it are able to move to smaller and cheaper premises.

Save on distribution
The InformIT report noted that for every dollar a company spends in printing costs, it will spend another $6 handling and distributing that paper. Paper documents have to be manually filed, which can take an inordinately long time and can lead to filing mistakes that suck more time as they are corrected. Costs also are incurred moving paper around whether via interoffice mail or through regular post. Companies spend on envelopes, stamps and postage as a result of being paper dependent. By moving to a digital system, businesses can save on other costs associated with paper that are not necessarily apparent immediately.