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Nick Gosden, Head of Business Unit - Scan, Brother UK

Paper-lite - Busting the myth of the paperless office

Nick Gosden

Head of Business Unit - Scanner

On the face of it, the concept of the paperless office is a noble aim. 

But the reality is that, for most businesses, going paperless is an unrealistic ambition. 

We recently commissioned research with more than 800 managers and employees at firms with five to 500 staff about their attitudes to print. 

It found that 69 per cent of managers say they’ll always need a certain amount of paper to operate efficiently, and 61 per cent are striving to use less paper, rather than not using any paper at all. 

There are many ways that firms can use technology, such as Brother scanners and multifunction devices that can print and scan, to reduce their use of paper, while also improving productivity and efficiency. 

It’s called going paper-lite and it’s a concept that we’re helping British businesses to adopt. 

Saving space, streamlining processes

Our research report, Paper-lite: Busting the myth of the paperless office, found that the most common reason for employees to print documents is for filing and record keeping, with more than half (55%) using it for this purpose. 

Printing out documents for storage takes up a lot of space, and even the most organised filing system is time consuming to search and prone to human error. 

Instead, scanning and digitising paper records using Brother’s portable and desktop scanners means offices don’t need to be crammed with filing cabinets. 

Every paper document is converted into a crystal-clear PDF file, which can be stored in searchable digital archives located on your company server. These documents can also be remotely accessed using cloud connectivity by workers away from the office.  

They’re fast too, scanning up to 50 double-sided pages every minute. 

Nearly two thirds (64%) of employees told us that scanning documents allows them to work more efficiently, with 61 per cent saying their business was now reliant on scanning. 

And our barcode scanning software can make processing large numbers of standard documents, like order forms or proof of delivery records, far more efficient while also reducing the exposure to error.

Efficient and secure

Adding a barcode to each document means the scanner can automatically and immediately save a digital version to the right location on your network, every time. 

Not only does this streamline the scanning process, it makes documents easy to retrieve when they are needed. 

Where security is an issue, scanners can instantly secure any new PDF file with a four-digit PIN, so nobody can open it without authorisation. 

Our research also found that employees say they print documents to increase their efficiency at work, justifying this by saying they feel it makes information quicker to share in meetings (40%), easier to review (39%) and amend (37%). 

But Brother scans aren’t just lifeless images of paper documents - these PDF files are versatile and highly functional. 

Unlocking information

Brother scanners come with powerful PC and Mac software that unlocks the information in the images using Optical Character Recognition

This means that anyone with a desktop computer, laptop or tablet can search the text using keywords, edit and update the document, add comments, mark up amends and share it with colleagues. 

You can even extract tables or numerical data to other software programmes. 

When combined with a Managed Print Service, where a firm’s printers and multi-function devices are leased and managed for an agreed monthly fee, the potential for further efficiencies is enhanced even further, potentially cutting print costs by more than a fifth every year. 

Before you sign up, an expert audit identifies the most efficient tech for your company’s needs and, once the contract starts, all supplies are automatically delivered just in time. 

If anything goes wrong, any repairs are promptly taken care of so employees can focus on their jobs without being distracted by print-related tasks. 

An achievable ambition

There is a range of Brother print and scanning technologies businesses can adopt to become paper-lite, achieving productivity, efficiency, cost, security and environmental benefits. 

The paperless office may ultimately prove to be a myth, but for most firms, becoming a paper-lite business is a truly achievable ambition. 

Read the full report here