A truly paperless office would have no physical documents and very few virtual ones

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 2, 2020

Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash

The pandemic may have taken some of the business of working online but not necessarily all of the more mundane processes of paperwork and filing.

In fact, if you think about it, the pandemic hasn’t really changed the documentation usually required by organisations. Offices around the world have long relied on physical documentation – even if reduced to a scan – often with a signature, for everything from claiming a travel expense to circulating a memo.

That continues. People are using electronic signatures to complete documents. Home workers, scrambling to fulfil the need to send the ‘paperwork’ (it’s still called that, even though it’s virtual) have rushed to buy home printers and scanners.

Isn’t it time that we tried to think of truly paperless offices? By that I mean sans much of the ‘paperwork’.

Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to re-imagine processes altogether so that much less documentation (physical or virtual) is required in the normal work week? Does so much virtual paper need to be shuffled around?

Though 21st century offices are no longer quite the Chancery court in Dickens’ ‘Bleak House’ – “great bundles of paper began to be carried out – bundles in bags, bundles too large to be got into any bags”, to some extent, virtual documentation simply replicates the paper trail.