The importance of businesses going paperless post-COVID-19

Colin Yates
8 October, 21

To be by-lined to Colin Yates, chief support officer at WorkMobile, an award-winning data capture solution.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 6 in 10 UK businesses have ended up cutting their environment-related investments, and previous steps that were taken to address emissions and sustainability targets have fallen into the background.

Interestingly, whilst corporate sustainability fell in priority due to the pandemic forcing attention onto other, more pressing, operational matters, the same shift did not happen in relation to customer and employee expectations around sustainability. Companies are increasingly expected to be more transparent about their emissions and the processes that they use, and employees are also demanding more from the organisations that they choose to work for in terms of their green credentials.

Going paperless can minimise a business’s carbon footprint and further its sustainability journey. Removing paper-based processes and investing in alternative digital solutions, such as apps, that employees can use to complete various tasks whether working from the office, home, or out in the field, can make a huge difference to a business’s sustainability credentials.

Whilst there are many sustainability related advantages for businesses when becoming a paperless workplace, it can also have a positive impact on employee engagement, efficiency, productivity and compliance too. This piece will discuss some of the benefits of going paperless in a post-COVID-era and how this can be done within any workplace or, indeed, out in the field.

Digital tools can safely store data and removes the need for paper

Taking paper records and storing them on a digital platform does not only help to reduce a business’s environmental impact, but it also helps to safeguard against essential or confidential documents being damaged or misplaced. This can protect the business from compliance issues and because digital documents are stored in the cloud, authorised users can access the documents anywhere, at any time, from a mobile device.

Similarly, for employees that work out in the field or away from the physical office, apps can be a great way to quickly input information and send it over to team members at other sites. This boosts the speed of sending and sharing data that is understandably slower, if physical paper copies need to be sent and transferred around an organisation. It helps to encourage quicker better quality decisions from the centre. 

Digital solutions can also remove the need to manually input data that has been recorded outside of the physical office. This means that the amount of time that needs to be spent on administrative duties is kept to a minimum, as all data only needs to be recorded once. This helps to streamline these processes, therefore improving efficiency and giving staff more time to spend on other, more important activities.

Remote working makes going paperless easier

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, businesses have had to find ways to support staff to do their jobs while minimising the time spent in the office where possible. This has understandably meant that digital approaches have become the go-to solution as the main way that employees can communicate, share and send information.

Therefore, taking the steps towards becoming a paperless business might not be as drastic as it once might have initially seemed.

If an organisation is still yet to embrace digital solutions, having a look at where paper is most heavily used and understanding whether it is necessary to keep paper files over saving things digitally, is a good start.

Then, researching other tools available that can replace these particular paper documents, such as employee-facing apps, can enable this paperless change moving forward.

Workers will support this business decision

Finally, anything that makes employees’ lives easier will likely be supported by any workforce. And, as consumers and employees are starting to increasingly be aware of their environmental impact and businesses’ green credentials, any initiatives that demonstrate a sustainable agenda will no doubt be greeted with enthusiasm.

To generate employee support for a business-wide paperless initiative, communicating the benefits of the decision and promoting the advantages of digital solutions will ensure that the whole organisation gets behind the green agenda. The ease of sharing data, quicker speed for collecting information, and supporting the jobs that employees carry out each day, reducing reliance on paper for the convenience of digital use, will be an easy fit for any forward-thinking and sustainably conscious organisation.

As the UK sets its sights on achieving net-zero by 2035, businesses are being encouraged to make environmentally conscious choices now to meet this deadline. After a year of remote working, and digital tools becoming increasingly popular, cutting out the use of paper within an organisation is a simple and inexpensive step businesses can make to push its green agenda and ensure that it is working towards a more green-conscious future.

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