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Going Paperless: Why And How To In Our COVID-19 World

Going paperless isn’t a new idea. But in light of COVID-19, it’s a great time to reconsider it. 

Because while going paperless can be a daunting challenge, it can go a long way to minimizing physical contact. And that’s definitely a mandate in most businesses right now. 

So let’s delve into why and how you can look at developing a modern, contactless system that won’t just optimise business recovery, but might ultimately save lives. 

Why Go Paperless?

I won’t bore you with the usual pros – saving money, ensuring anywhere access, etc. You know all of that already.

The latest benefit is avoiding that scary Coronavirus. Paper can harbour the virus for up to 24 hours.

So if you touch Jill’s reports from last night that were unknowingly sneezed on by her asymptomatic five-year-old, you could still be susceptible – even though you wore a mask all day and have alcohol burns from hand sanitiser.

You get to save the cute rainforest animals and save on paper storage. But out of all the benefits, we believe business efficiency and increased accountability top the list. 

Optimise your operations and you’re in for a bigger bottom line.

What The Benefits Of Going Paperless Look Like

What does a paperless office or workplace actually look like? Where are the wins? 

Here are a few scenarios for you to visualise…

Optimised Operations

Let’s think of your floor supervisor. He has to leg it all the way to the office to create a new job card. Then he hustles over to safety to get the job card signed off on. Then it’s the long walk back to the floor to pass the job card on. 

What if he could accomplish all the same stuff from a single computer? All with a few keystrokes. 

A good paperless system makes this easy. 

Lightning Fast Policy Changes

When there are urgent changes to make to policies, pinned up notices don’t make for great efficiency. 

A good paperless system can help make changes instantly accessible to everyone in the organization. 

You could even create a task with something like Appenate, so supervisors are notified to communicate changes to their teams. That way you’ve got proof that the change was communicated effectively.

Streamlined Breakdowns?

It’s 3 pm on a Thursday and there’s a breakdown on the line. Great.

Also the printer’s broken… AGAIN. The team can’t print the safety checklist needed to start work on the breakdown.

So do you skip safety and risk the lawsuits? Or do you wait for the printer techs and let everybody at home know you’ll be late for dinner? 

How about neither?

In tomorrow’s paperless world, the safety checklist is right there on your head technician’s phone. He simply fills it out and fixes stuff. It goes to safety and comes straight back. 

Before you even know there’s a breakdown, the line’s running again. 

You don’t have to skip dinner or deal with those ‘slick’ printer techs and their excuses.

And if you’re interested in calculating how much money this would eventually save you, check out this post

The Challenges Of Going Paperless

With any major change, there are going to be pitfalls. Going paperless is no exception. 

Here are a few things to consider…

Security Risks And Viruses

So, we reduce the risk of a physical virus and increase the risk of a digital virus. Ironic, right? 

Two major ideas to consider here. The security of your chosen platform or database, and your employees’ behaviour. 

Firstly, make sure to choose a secure platform as your base for going paperless. Make sure to investigate the digital security of each of the platforms you consider. 

Secondly, make sure your employees are aware and on the lookout for cyberattacks via email and other mediums. An initial training session along with an annual review can go a long way in stopping infections by user error. 

This way you can avoid a similar situation to Nyana being held for a whopping $1m ransom in a cyber attack.

Overall, however, going paperless is way more secure at the end of the day. Especially in terms of backups and data-loss prevention, according to this article in the Telegraph. 

Initial Costs

Costs saved from going paperless can quickly outweigh initial setup costs. You should still consider these costs, as they can get out of hand if you’re not careful.

Make sure to go with a cost-effective option to ensure the sustainability of your paperless solution.

Gradually going paperless can also help spread these costs over time, making them less impactful. 

Software Maintenance

It’s important to note that most platforms do require maintenance. So keep this in mind as you may have to hire a new employee – or have a current employee pivot into this kind of role. 

Something to consider while selecting your new paperless platform. 

Privacy & Legal Issues

Last but definitely not least. There are tons of digital privacy laws out there these days. GDPR, FTC, COPPA, GLBA, FACTA – I could go on all day. 

It’s important to keep these in mind when collecting information on your users, clients or even your own employees. Make sure you’re covered and compliant at all times. 

Just so you can avoid fines of up to €20 million (no joke – that’s the maximum fine on the GDPR!). 

How To Get Started Going Paperless

Getting started is often the hardest part. Which is why it’s best to choose a small part of your business and start the process there. 

The trick is to scale down paper use systematically, and not do it all at once. A lot can fall through the cracks when big migrations like this are rushed. 

Let’s start with cleaning checklists as an example – in the spirit of battling COVID-19. 

Take your current cleaning checklist and get it onto Appenate or a similar platform. This takes a little work up front – but once it’s up it’s there forever. 

From there it’s easily accessed by your cleaners, who’ll check off items as they clean and sanitise. When done, they add their signature to the form.

And there you have it – proof that cleaning best practices are being followed. And no messy, disease-ridden paper got involved – so you save on paper storage space too.

Now simply roll out to the next phase – maintenance teams, field sales teams, construction teams, safety teams, etc. Just pick your next target and keep up the momentum. 

The Paperless Future Is Here

If anything, COVID-19 has forced us head-first into an uncomfortable future. We’re forced to make changes we otherwise might not have considered.

And while it’s human nature to resist change, a paperless system won’t only reduce our environmental footprint and costs, but also increase hygiene and efficiency. 

So let’s embrace this new future and head into the new world together, geared up for faster business recovery

Feel free to grab the limited time offer below, or try our free trial if you’d like. That way you can also try out our business continuity and health checklists.

Stay safe, work hard and gear yourself up to #comebackstronger as we head into the ‘new normal’ together.

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