Even in today’s digital age, a vast majority of our daily information is in paper form. However, businesses must extend a paperless office policy to remote workers to overcome the risks, costs, inefficiencies and lost opportunities caused by relying on paper-based communications. Cost-saving initiatives must cover staff working remotely, says Shooping Lin, Sales Director, Plustek UK.

The concept of the paperless office isn’t new?the buzzword has actually been kicking around for over 20 years. It’s still popular today, even though few organisations that strive to achieve it actually do. Most businesses are looking to rein in costs, and one area where a definite saving can be made is printing costs. Offices are being strenuously encouraged to reduce print output, making sure employees print everything double-sided with black ink only—and in some cases in draft mode only—unless single-sided or coloured printing is absolutely imperative.

Remote workers are somewhat excluded from these corporate rules—if they want to, they can print everything in colour and on heavy stock, single-sided in their home offices. This low-print policy should be sensibly applied to remote offices as well as at company HQ. Adhering to some degree of company policy in the home office can also help remote workers feel like they’re ‘on company time’, boosting motivation and providing a sense of professionalism in an environment that’s often intensely personal.

It is much easier for remote workers to share digital documents as they just have to go to a shared drive and open the required files?much easier than having to send paper documents to another cubicle, floor, or even another building! A company can also save tons of money on paper and printer ink and toner because there is nothing for employees to print out to send to other departments?it is all done in the system. Just as important, a company can actually help to reduce waste and pollution by using fewer paper products (fewer trees cut down) and creating less waste (paper rubbish).

Changing work practices

Most people reject the paperless approach because of work practice. If an employee is used to working on paper to brainstorm, plan, work out process flows, and so on, they may have trouble transitioning those practices to the electronic environment. An approach that reduces paper usage in the name of cost and the environment, but still allows workers to do the tasks they love on paper might be a good way to align a home office more closely with a paperless ideal.

A scanning system is the perfect tool to facilitate the move to a paperless office. However, it needs to be easy to use and must cope with a vast volume of paper. Cost is a major concern to most businesses, so a system is needed that comes pre-packaged with the right software needed to get the job done without going to the lengths of having an expensive bespoke IT system to scan and file all the pieces of paper.

A compact A4-size platform doesn’t need much space and yet it’s always on standby so that it can be used anytime by anyone in the office. Whether it’s multi-page documents, colour brochures, business cards or typical business correspondence, everything can be scanned in just one step and saved in its original layout on a computer or a central archive on the network as a searchable PDF?no more hunting through filing cabinets!

Different subdirectories also let workers save file according to date, adding commercial value because all company employees immediately know at what date anything happened. For enhanced ease of use, make sure you choose a scanner that has a convenient, programmable single-touch function button that permits users to pre-set customised functions for different scanning needs.

For example, you should be able to create searchable PDFs, scan to e-mail, OCR, or file documents by simply pressing a button. In order to enjoy these benefits a system has to be put in place that will truly eliminate the need for paper copies. The relatively small acquisition cost of a good scanner will be quickly wiped out by the saving of work time and paper.