Say hello to the office of the future.
Paper used to be the king of the office.
Every proposal, document, plan, file, and form had to be printed.
Shared. And filed away.
In fact, small armies of filing cabinets filled up most offices. All packed to capacity with paper documents and information.
But with technology that is changing fast.
Just as digital has taken over your social, personal and entertainment world, it’s also transforming the modern office. Nowhere is this more true than in the SMB space.
Recent studies have shown that up to 65% of employees prefer to work away from their desks in the move towards a more mobile workforce. Something that’s not possible when you’re buried in paperwork.
Smartphones, tablets and personal computers mean you can access information anywhere. The cloud means you can store it anytime. And the internet of things means a lot of work can be automated.
Before we get into all that, let’s talk about what reducing paper usage can do.
The paper to digital conversion saves you the time and hassle of filing, organizing, archiving and disposing of all that paperwork.
So it’s goodbye to filing cabinets and shredding machines. Hello, more open workspaces.
Reducing paper usage reduces costs on buying, working with and sending paper files or documents.
Organizing and retrieving paper documents can also be a real time-waster. In the 30 seconds it takes to reach the filing cabinet, you could search for dozens of digital files.
Paper also ties us to the office. But with everything stored on the cloud or a server, you can retrieve it with any of your enabled devices. Anywhere. Anytime.
Lastly, going digital is good for the environment. Fewer trees are cut down. And there’s less for landfills.
Ok, so it’s easy to see the benefits of digitising. But is it really that easy? We’ve put together a simple 8-step process for a seamless switch to an automated workflow.
You don’t need to do it all at once. And you don’t need to eliminate paper altogether. But by taking these simple steps you’ll immediately reduce cost, free up your employees, and make your operations more mobile and efficient.
The first thing you need to do is identify how your office works and how you want it to work. Then look for ways to save time and simplify workflow.
The way your company invoices or onboards new staff could be a good place to start. Organizing tasks, processes, and workflow digitally will keep everyone on the same page without having to print any paper.
Take a look at how customers engage with your brand and how your employees get involved in the customer journey.
Is there an opportunity for more web-based communication? Can forms and billing be further digitised or streamlined?
What can you do to reduce costs and improve workflow efficiency?
Create a blueprint or map of how you can optimize these tasks and then break the process into achievable time-based goals.
This is also a good time to get some employee feedback. Change is always a little scary. Walking your staff through the process and explaining time and cost savings will help get everyone on board.
Now that you’ve identified the tasks and workflows you want to change, take some time to evaluate the best ways of doing it.
Think about how these automated workflows can be captured, shared, located and secured.
Move to end-to-end digitisation. Here you’ll need to ensure sensitive documents can only be printed by the right people, with the right credentials, so everyone is free to work without fear of losing critical information.
If your operation works across multiple countries or multiple languages, you’ll want to think about how automation can remove language barriers.
Test your digital document workflow on different devices, in different connectivity settings, and with various stakeholders. Getting everyone to understand and buy into change is vital.
Studies have found that 62% of data breach incidents are caused by human error, far outweighing other causes like unsecure web pages and hacking, which stand at 9% combined.
How’s it going? Now is a good time to step back and evaluate the change. Are your customers and employees taking full advantage of automation?
What else can you do?
How can you use smart technologies and automation tools to improve the way your employees function and your customers engage with your business in other areas?
Reinvent and innovate.
Think of automating workflow as a circle not a straight line. There is always more you can do. By staying up to date with what is happening in other industries and with other technologies, you can use automation to your full advantage.
The future is digital.
Over the next few years, we’re sure to see rapid improvements in how workflows are automated. Chatbots, machine learning, natural-language voice commands and predictive analytics will all influence workflow automation.
But people will remain at the center of digital workflows.
By digitising your workflow, you’re not changing the work you do. Just the tools you use to do it.
By moving toward a paperless office, you are opening the door to a more collaborative, more mobile and less departmental enterprise.
In short, automating your workflow means more freedom.
Freedom from waste. Freedom from desks. Freedom from duplication. Freedom from inefficiencies.
If you’d like to know more about the specifics of transforming your workflow, we’re here to help.