Digital vs. analog – how to make your office paperless

In spring 2022, the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV) caused a stir in Germany. When making a statement on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, it claimed that there simply wasn’t enough paper to write to all insured persons due to a severe shortage.

Digitizing your office benefits your business as well as the environment. Our checklist shows how!
Image: Studio Romantic/Adobe Stock

As absurd as this problem seems, it forced people to put a critical eye on the progress of digitalization in German offices. Many of them are still cluttered with sticky notes, endless piles of files, and dusty archives. That can lead to massive complications, as the case of the GKV shows.

If you want to avoid such problems, digitalizing your office is the way forward. However, there are certain things to keep in mind: our practical checklist contains 5 essential principles and scenarios for your digitalization process.

Problem areas in a paper-dominated office

An office that still relies heavily on paper documents can face a wide range of problems beyond merely running out of paper.

For one thing, physical file storage is not a very economical solution compared to digital systems. Research might take a lot longer, and cross-references are not as easy to incorporate. In contrast, a digital workflow will reduce the footwork involved and speed up processes at your company.

Second, being dependent on paper is associated with various costs. For example, printers have to be bought, serviced, and filled with ink and paper. A physical document archive also takes up space and costs money. These standard expenses are hardly ever questioned, but instead regarded as normal.

Reading tip: HR departments in particular are currently implementing important digitalization processes. You can read more about it in our story: Digitalization in human resources – still some catching up to do?.

Green reasons for a digital office

Above all, you’ll save heaps of paper by digitalizing your office. Admittedly, bureaucratic documents for the tax authorities, etc., frequently still have to be kept in paper form. However, many internal company documents can be processed more easily and quickly when they are digital. The environment also reaps the benefits, since a lot of water, wood, and energy are used to produce paper. With that in mind, every single sheet of paper you save helps protect the environment.

What’s more, employees don’t have to be present all at the same time in a digital office. An effective digital infrastructure makes it possible for them to work remotely and from home. They no longer have to commute by car and can save not only time, but also environmentally harmful fuel.

Viewing digitalization as a process

Switching to a paperless office doesn’t happen overnight. When it comes to digitalization, there is also no defined endpoint where you can stop making progress. It is a continuous process that needs to be instigated and followed up on an ongoing basis. Learning from experience will empower you to proactively shape the digitalization process. For this purpose, we’ve put together a checklist of 5 principles and practical tips for successfully digitalizing your office!