Rhenus News

The office of the future – paperless?

The yearning for a paperless office has existed in the world of administration for quite a long time. Many companies have already been insisting on it for some time. However, although digital trends such as home office solutions or establishing RPA are increasingly becoming the new norm, many companies are still a long way from having paper-free offices. What are the reasons for this?

One definition of the “paperless office”

The goal of having a paper-free office is for people to accomplish working processes within the firm without using any paper at all. As a result, all the information is managed using computer-based processes and DMS (Document Management Systems). Jens Kumbrink, the Managing Director of  Rhenus Office Systems and an expert in this field, shows how companies can achieve this. “The solution introduces digitalisation and entirely changes the processes.”

However, before companies opt for digitalisation, they need to consider some factors so that the change in processes goes smoothly too.

Good preparation is the key

It is not possible to introduce a paperless office overnight. “Time and patience are required before anything is launched, because the planning work is complex and requires excellent communications within the firm. The scope of the work and the expenditure therefore depend on how large the company is,” Kumbrink continues. The better the preliminary work, the faster it is possible to complete a project. Consultants or check lists can offer help in preparing and planning the switch in processes.

It is essential to have the employees on board when switching processes

When it comes to the topic of a paperless office, stereotyped preconceptions often come to light in the company employees: “Digitalisation makes things impersonal, the new processes are complicated and the programmes are hard to operate.” However, it is possible to prepare the ground here. Training courses on IT and DMS matters prepare employees for the change and familiarise them with the new processes and programmes. They can also eliminate questions and any kinds of prejudice. “This makes the changeover more pleasant and more efficient. It’s also important that the managers set an example and communicate efficiently so that the employees know exactly where things are heading,” the expert adds.

It is not necessary to change everything

A paperless office can save time and energy, because digital files are easier to find and to process than physical ones. Despite this, a paper-free office does not need to function without any paper at all straightaway. Jens Kumbrink explains why. “It’s possible to make progress in the early stages if parts of the office are digitalised and individual processes are transformed. This enables the employees to gradually become accustomed to the new processes and the costs for companies are not as high all at once.”

The benefits of a paperless office at a glance:

  • No more business based on bits of paper
  • No need to manage physical files
  • All the documents are available in digital form
  • The files are stored centrally (in a cloud)
  • No need for any physical storage
  • Any documents can be sent electronically
  • Sustainability (saves paper / reduces printing)

Digitalisation – a glimpse of the future

Digitalisation and therefore paperless offices create various challenges for different sectors. There are therefore major differences when dealing with this issue at the moment. But how will the office world develop in future?

One clear result emerged from the study entitled “Does paper still have a future?”, which Rhenus Office Systems commissioned at Münster University of Applied Sciences: paper has a future, but its importance will diminish. The managing director of Rhenus Office Systems explains the reasons for this. “It’s generally possible to say that the significance of paper will continue to decline, for example, because of driving forces such as the young generation and the increasing process of digitalisation.” This also implies that companies will have to come to terms with changing their processes sooner or later in order to remain viable and competitive. However, there are differences here too. Some sectors are active in the market place without using a lot of paper. They include, for example, start-ups, particularly in the computer science world. A digital structure and using less and less paper will not pose a problem in these kinds of businesses. However, there are also sectors that utilise a large amount of paper and the process of switching here requires much greater effort and expense. This development can only proceed at a slower pace because of the complexity involved. But a switch in these sectors cannot be completely ruled out either.

Coping with digitalisation – with a service provider  

The changeover to a paperless office is a difficult process for most companies, because the “digitalisation” solution poses challenges for them. Time, costs, technology are the key aspects in any digitalisation process. Many companies shy away from switching their operations, because they must ensure that no important data is lost and the change is a time-consuming and costly process to introduce. High-performance scanners are also necessary to convert all the physical data into digital form; this technology is expensive and not every company has it available. Service providers, on the other hand, exclusively operate with these kinds of high-performance scanners and are therefore able to digitalise the data quickly and reliably. Personnel resources are also required for the switch – after all, somebody has to manage the process of digitalisation. The initial stage should involve a review of the existing conditions. This means examining which departments make use of paper and to what degree. And not every company has the means to set aside its own employees for this task. A service provider can offer solutions here.

Moving towards a paperless office – with Rhenus Office Systems

Rhenus Office Systems supports companies in digitalising and switching their processes. Rhenus Office Systems helps establish paperless offices with its certified solutions in the field of document and information management and is also available to support companies. It provides firms with extensive support through services such as digital archives or OCR (Optical Character Recognition). Once the data has been digitalised, Rhenus Office Systems also looks after the physical storage of the files or their appropriate disposal after the expiry of the statutory retention periods.

You can find more information about the digitalisation services provided by Rhenus Office Systems here.