Once a common fixture in any office, paper is used far less in the current workspace. If Dunder Mifflin were a real company, their salespeople would be having a tough time getting paper off the shelves in this day and age.
Paper was a necessary tool for any business since the first industrial revolution, but since the turn of the century it has become less and less vital in the business world. Emails replace paper memos, billing can be done online, and so on and so on. The market reflected this, as graphic paper (normal paper) consumption fell by 32% from 2010 to 2020.
While paper is clearly becoming less important in the business world, industries like law, education, and real estate still have uses for paper. But as technology keeps advancing, paper will continue to lose its relevance in the modern world. Industries from tech to shipping are ditching paper and they are not alone.
Let’s take a look at five ways companies are streamlining business without paper:
Trip Inspection Forms
Since the practice of recorded vehicle inspections was adopted, business fleets used paper pre- and post-trip inspection forms to check on vehicles and record defects. The driver inspects the vehicle, writes down their findings, and turns it in to their boss so it can be kept for records. While using paper inspection forms is better than simply telling someone, it is still an inefficient and often inaccurate process.
Pre trip inspection software is changing the game for vehicle fleets. Instead of using pre-trip inspection forms to inspect a vehicle, drivers use an app to go through their checklist, then immediately send their report to the back office.
This type of quick inspection process helps companies because vehicle information gets to management sooner than it would have with paper forms. It allows management to know exactly how a vehicle is damaged right away so they can send it for repairs before the damage gets worse. Paper pre-trip inspection forms are often collected at the end of the week, which means defects can go unnoticed for longer periods of time or they can be lost.
By now many of you have already made an electronic signature, and you’ve probably noticed how much more convenient it is. You could be sitting on a beach in Australia and signing a lease for an apartment in Chicago without leaving your beach chair.
Electronic signature products like DocuSign have allowed people to sign documents from anywhere, which saves paper by not using an actual form for signing. This came type of technology proved to be very useful for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic because it allowed employees to sign documents without actually being in the office.
There are still some things that require an in-person signature, such as a mortgage, but electronic signature products are making it so more and more people are signing documents remotely.
Paper agendas and notes were once essential to any business meeting. Now, business meetings still have agendas and notes, but they are viewed on a computer screen and distributed to employees digitally.
Microsoft PowerPoint and other types of presentation software also reduce the need for paper in meetings. Employees can view the presentation on the big screen and follow along on their laptop or tablet. They can also access supplemental important documents and records from their device.
From restaurants to retail, the utilization of digital receipts has grown significantly over the past decade.
Services like Square have offered a new way to share receipts without a single piece of paper being used. Receipts are emailed or texted to customers instead of printed out.
Digital receipts have been widely adopted by small businesses because they are easy to use and help companies save money by avoiding paper receipt purchases.
Cloud Document Storage
Remember when offices used to have giant file cabinets? These ugly metal wardrobes were used to store years’ worth of important documents and records.
Well, now those documents are just stored in the cloud. Instead of rifling through enormous file cabinets to find something, employees can simply look up a document in their company’s cloud database.
It is fairly easy to see why paper has become more and more obsolete. New types of technology have rendered so many uses of paper obsolete, whether it be digital receipts or just the notes app on your smartphone.
With so many paperless solutions available, it makes sense why businesses are rethinking their paper needs. Some companies may see the worth in accounting for paper expenditures in the budget, but there are plenty of paperless options on the market for those looking to cut costs.