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What is Paperless?

A paperless policy is becoming a standard in business. Reducing or even eliminating paper documentation is an environmental, image, logistical and financial issue for a company. Check out what and how many possibilities the electronic circulation of documents gives you!

Smaller or no demand for paper in business, in practice, boils down to limiting the felling of forests, cutting down costs, reducing the time needed to conclude contracts or automating some formal issues. Electronic signing of documents is the fundamental thing, yet there are further possibilities. Contemporary services allow, for instance, easier access to the archive or verification of the identity of signers. Electronic document circulation makes it possible to streamline multiple processes – in both business and public administration. Greater comfort and a higher level of safety can go hand in hand with care for the natural world.

Paperless Approach

The prospect of paperless offices – several decades ago considered some kind of science fiction – is slowly becoming standard nowadays. The concept of a paperless office first appeared in publications dating back to the second half of the 1970s. Initially, the goal was to improve accounting and organise documentation; today, progressing digitisation and modern technologies bring about more opportunities to emerge. The electronic circulation of documents makes it possible, for instance, to check who has viewed them and when or what changes have been made, etc.

Specialists point out that there is still a long way to fully transition to paperless. One of the obstacles preventing businesses from abandoning paper rests with outdated regulations. The law or formal issues make using digital solutions more difficult in many dimensions. Factors slowing down the pace of change also comprise:

  • a lack of uniform standards (different file formats);
  • growing hardware and software costs;
  • the risk of a temporary worsening of efficiency when transiting to a new organisation system;
  • people being habituated to the traditional form;
  • a fear of cyber threats and insufficient awareness of the responsibility of users themselves for data security in the network;
  • a lack of appropriate skills to operate the necessary software and tools.

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The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that office employees use 0.91 kg (2 lb) of paper documents, folders, envelopes and cardboard packaging per working day. This is the equivalent of 182 sheets of A4 paper per 80 g/m². Meeting such a huge demand and producing ink and toners for printers involves serious environmental pollution. Experts list the greatest threats as:

  • air pollution – emissions of nitrogen dioxide, sulphur and carbon (NO₂, SO₂, CO₂);
  • water pollution – nitrogen and phosphorus increase the risk of eutrophication of water reservoirs;
  • poisoning caused by toxic, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals or non-renewable oils.

The transition to an electronic document workflow can be a significant milestone in the social responsibility activities of many companies. If environmental reasons are not convincing, it is definitely worth presenting other data and figures. Rising prices of energy and raw materials will increase production costs and/or reduce the supply of paper – it will become more and more expensive, and perhaps will become scarce. Digitalisation and electronic signing of documents is the best solution to this problem.