Definition
A Paperless society can be defined as a society in which communication and record keeping (written documents, letters, etc.) with the use of paper is replaced by electronic communication and storage. This concept was originated by Frederick Lancaster in the year 1978.

Towards a paperless society

Nowadays, it has become all too common to see a message from some organization proclaiming with great self-satisfaction that it is shifting to “paperless” communications. Even our government says that it is trying to reduce the use of paper and digitize every process. The concept of Digital India envisaged by our Prime Minister also involves the vision that documents and proofs required to be submitted at different government departments be digitally stored and transmitted. The “DigiLocker” facility has also been made available in this regard.

But the reality is that we still use a lot of paper, despite the excessive use of personal computers, smartphones and other digital devices, and despite the increasing popularity of online bill paying & other digital transactions. As of today, the world produces around 300 million tons of paper every year, which requires almost 4 billion trees to be cut down. The reason?

Let us take for example “Printed Journals” vis-à-vis “E-Journals”. Most people simply like reading a printed paper magazine, enjoying the tactile feel of the pages and appreciating the design and handiness, as compared to straining their eyes reading an “E-Newsletter”.

If we compare paper books and e-books, there are many benefits of paper books which cannot be overlooked. Paper books are flexible, easy to flip through, easy to mark your place in, you can write anywhere on them, you can loan them to your friends or sell them back to bookstores at will, they never have to be charged, they never need to be updated with new software or hardware, and they can withstand some pretty rough treatment.

If we see it from a broader perspective, paper is the transitional stopgap that gives our society time to transition and deliver a perfect, paperless era with systems that truly fit the modern and creative world. But as of now, we are still far away from a truly paperless society.

 

A Paperless Office

A paperless office is a work environment in which the use of paper is eliminated or greatly reduced. This is done by converting documents and other papers into digital form. The term “The Paperless Office” was first used in commerce by Micronet, Inc., an automated office equipment company, in 1978.

The need for paper is eliminated by using online systems, such as replacing index cards with databases, typed letters and faxes with email, and reference books with the internet.

Advantages

1. A paperless office uses less physical space when bulky filing cabinets are eliminated or reduced.

2. Relocating to a smaller office or building may be possible, saving money on a lease

3. The chances of losing important documents are lower when scanned and filed electronically, and the documents are often easier to find in an electronic system.

4. Processing documents electronically opens up the opportunity for employees to work remotely and can improve efficiency and employee morale.

5. An environmentally friendly approach to office management.
Disadvantages

1. Up-to-date computer hardware and software is essential for a paperless office, so you may have to upgrade your systems initially and keep them upgraded, which comes at a cost.

2. If you don’t have an IT person in your company, you may need to hire one to monitor your system, train new users and perform regular backups of your information.

3. Maintaining tight security for your documents and business information is vital, and the more people use a system, the closer it must be monitored for privacy issues & viruses.

4. Improperly scanned documents can result in incomplete records, and files that are incorrectly named or stored electronically are often difficult to retrieve.

This article was originally published in the E-NEWSLETTER of “Raipur Branch of CICASA” (August 2016 issue) which is available for download at-

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxEh3X7oruNneng1UTFpaVVzMm8/view?usp=drivesdk
Image Credit – Gustavofrazao-Fotolia

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