by Jesse Wood, CEO of eFileCabinet
Although work is not synonymous with freedom, there are freedoms you can discover through the implementation of a Document Management System (DMS).
Just as lions ruled the jungle before we caged them in zoos, workers ruled their professional lives before paperwork shackled them to their desks, printers, fax machines, and filing cabinets. However, unlike the caged lions in these zoos, most workers aren’t aware of the paper predicament oppressing them.
In other words, any paper-dependent organization allowing its workers to rely on paper in transacting and conducting business is not only partaking in the cycle of its workers’ oppression, but also the oppression of the organization as a whole: Lost profits, reduced operational efficiency, inconvenience, and unmet compliance standards are only a few of the setbacks paper-dependent offices face on a daily basis. Other setbacks are easier to trace:
The average paper dependent organization either misfiles or loses a document every 12 seconds — each document costing anywhere from $150 to $300. Offices also steal 30-40% of each of their employees’ productivity per day, shave annual revenues by 15%, and waste anywhere from 15-25% of the space in a leased office. To add insult to environmental injury, 68 million trees are cut down each year to fuel these inefficiencies.
However, all is not lost: by making the first step toward taking your office paperless through document management software, you can reclaim these 6 crucial freedoms at work today:
1. The Freedom to Work How You Want.
Of the 6 freedoms you can discover at work today, this is the most liberating. Our career is a large part of how we spend our lives in our own way—so it’s crucial that we have the freedom to form this career out of our most authentic dreams, aspirations, and goals.
Aside from the white picket fence, dog, marriage, and children, a big part of living the American dream (and the global dream, really) means not only having the freedom to choose which career we enter, but also freedom in how we work throughout the duration of this career.
Whether that means working from home, while traveling, or from any device you want while outside the office, DMS places this freedom at your fingertips.
Through Mac OS X integration, mobile applications, cloud-based online solutions that enable secure access to documents anywhere there’s an internet connection, DMS provides workers the freedom to work how they want while simultaneously ensuring the security of an organization’s information.
2. The Freedom of Time.
Of the 6 freedoms you can discover at work today, this one provides the most flexibility for those looking to structure their lives in the most unique ways possible. One of the biggest freedoms DMS offers in helping organizations go paperless is the freedom of time. Time is not only money, it’s currency that’s arguably more valuable than the kind printed by the Federal Reserve: Far from being an in-kind gift—we can use it however we wish.
DMS frees up time for organizations by eliminating the need to re-create lost or misplaced files. It also speeds up document turnaround times via workflow features and collaboration tools, consequently expediting document retrieval times through metadata and sophisticated indexing capabilities.
Otherwise, the time consumed by filing, misfiling, storing, ‘losing,’ and needlessly re-creating documents creates an enormous opportunity cost, meaning there are many more ways we could’ve used this time productively and to our organizations’ benefit.
3. The Freedom of Professional Development.
Of the 6 freedoms you can discover at work today, professional development is most likely the best stepping stone to other forms of occupational freedom.
The more time we have to work on our skills and contribute to our organizations, the more freedom we have to develop as professionals. Even a records manager would not deem time handling paper as sufficient means for establishing his or her professional development.
The less time spent on filing and misplacing files, the more time there is to spend on learning and refining employees’ skills. This is increasingly important to both knowledge and process workers alike in all industries — all of these workers at times feeling dejected by the lack of time they receive to develop themselves professionally.
4. The Freedom to Overthrow Manual Labor.
You may be thinking, Wait, nobody does manual labor in an office. Well, we’re here to tell you that just simply isn’t the case—and this manual labor includes employees who work outside of an organizations’ shipping department.
From the dozens of times employees carry printed items from the printer and back to their desk to the time spent walking to and from filing cabinets to retrieve files — from a bird’s eye view, it would look as if office workers are partaking in some sort of inefficient relaying of information — the kind that requires a lot of walking, lifting, and retrieving. By both nature and definition alike, this dependence on paper definitely is manual labor.
Despite this fact, many are often quick to deem manual labor as something that occurs strictly outside the office and only in blue collar environments. But paperwork and paper itself are what keeps manual labor alive and well in white-collar, corporate offices worldwide.
Although DMS can’t help every industry overthrow manual labor (such as construction), those industries can reduce the number of steps in its workflows by relying on less paper.
5. Freedom from Misplaced Nostalgia.
Musician Frank Zappa once said that ‘It isn’t necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities; one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.’
Although paper is responsible for holding sweet nostalgia as they appear in letters and other keepsakes, these nostalgias have little relevance in an office filing cabinet’s storage—where people aren’t necessarily dying to place and later retrieve TPS reports when they need a quick pick-me-up.
Instead, what ends up happening is the office-relevant information is stored and kept in the filing cabinet for eternities of irretrievableness.
But many employees in every creed of organization act as if every item is worth hoarding — storing and filing away reports and unnecessary files as if they were their grandmother’s heirlooms.
However, the automated retention and deletion feature of DMS keeps us from transubstantiating this issue, disposing of user-specified files on specific dates as selected by the administrator.
This not only reduces the amount of clutter employees have to deal with, it makes items more retrievable and secure, too.
6. The Freedom of Peace of Mind.
Paper-dependent organizations have wrongfully placed a sense of psychological sense of security on paper. This is not only because paper is a tangible object, but also because the previous year has been rife with digital data breaches.
What most organizations don’t know, however, is that although many of these data breaches occurred via digital means, DMS is not just ‘digital,’ it offers bank-grade encryption in its information exchange and client sharing portals.
Additionally, email is also digital, but not anywhere near as secure as people believe: email has multiple points where information stops in transit, and these locations are susceptible to breach. So next time you think about emailing a client’s sensitive information, think again.
Also, most of these data breaches are conducted internally, meaning they don’t come from outside hackers. The role based user permissions inherent to DMS sidestep this problem, keeping all relevant information in a central, secure repository, yet permitting only certain users to access certain files, information, and content.
What’s more, peace of mind doesn’t just involve sidestepping human-based data attacks — it also involves ensuring continuity of information in the event of a natural disaster.
How Will You Use These Freedoms at Work Today?
If your organization were sideswiped by a tornado, submerged in the waters of a flood, or clutched in the furious gales of a tornado, would you be able to continue mission-critical operations the next day? If you don’t use DMS for your organization, the answer is a definite ‘no.’
With DMS and the paperless office environment it provides, data is stored and housed in multiple points of physical and artificial presence—keeping your organization’s information indestructible and secure.
These freedoms are what will help organizations dispel the myths of paper-dependent corporate freedom, enabling us to achieve professional development, peace of mind, time put to good use, and the means to work how we want inasmuch as it will help erase misplaced nostalgia and manual labor in our corporate environments.
Jesse Wood is the CEO of document management vendor, eFileCabinet. Founded in 2001, eFileCabinet, Inc. began as a cutting-edge tool to digitally store records in accounting firms. As it grew in popularity, eFileCabinet developed into a full-fledged electronic document management solution designed to help organizations automate redundant processes, ensure security, and solve common office problems.