Paper Matters vs. Paperless Office

Technology has changed the world. It has also changed the way law offices use technology and office equipment.  Cell phones, technology and software programs have become normal usage in offices, replacing the more traditional tools.  Is this the route hard copies of documents are going? Are we reaching a paperless society? Are databases online and on computers the future for a law office? Will it replace the hard copies of written notes, law books and journals, and files?

Perhaps the paperless office is not taking over.  Emails are printed, faxes are sent and printed, and files on the computer have its duplicates in hard copies. This is evidence that paperless offices are not such a threat as one would think.  There are theoretical and hands-on reasons why paper still matters.

Touch is an important action that humans need, from infants to grown-ups. It is one of the five senses that you use on a daily basis. You don’t even realize how natural it is to touch something, you touch almost everything. Science has proven that the frequency babies are touched affect their health and adjustment levels. Ease of access of eBooks has made it a popular way to read a book. However, many people will purchase and download the eBook and then buy the paperback as well. There is an emotional attachment to picking up a book and turning pages while reading. It doesn’t feel the same with reading a book on a screen.

Eco-friendly offices are important to protect our beautiful planet. A paperless office automatically is green by not using paper. Trees are saved and less pollution occurs during the process of producing paper. It is also true that by recycling paper, the usage of trees for paper has reduced by 25 percent to 40 percent. There are paper products that are manufactured totally from recycled paper.  Methods of discarding paper are by far more eco-friendly than getting rid of computers, and other electronic equipment.  Taking everything into consideration, it may be possible that paper could be the greener option of the two.

The generation that grew up with books and paper as the main source of record keeping, are still active part of the job market. Although, they have learned to use computers and are at ease with the latest technology, they automatically prefer hard copies and using paper instead of computer files. They are used to processing facts and data on printed paper quicker and easier than on the computer screen.

When reading a newspaper, there is the possibility of being surprised by coming across a bit of news in the newspaper that you wouldn’t normally have chosen to read. Using RSS feeds or subscriptions to decide what you want to read, is a controlled environment that removes the probability of a surprise from the equation. Searching on computer screens is different to paging through a book searching for something. The linearity of the searching on the computer screen requires adapting too.

The internet and the online world have changed the necessity of jobs and the creation of new jobs. The older generation was taught to dictate notes for the secretary to transcribe. The younger generation is more adapt in using computer skills. Although they won’t be dictating to a secretary, dictations skills are still required when using software with voice recognition ability. Technology therefore changes certain ways of doing things, but there are fundamental skills that will always be necessary in an office environment.

Before paper disappears totally, the practical aspects of necessity of hard copies should be considered. Specifically in law office there are certain rules to adhere to.

A paper document cannot be altered without it being noticed. To change a digital file is much simpler. This can have legal implications. Therefore in a law office there are certain original documents that should be kept in a hard copy format, for example, wills, certain contracts, settlement agreements, affidavits. There are specific rules and regulations for a certain time period that hard copies of legal documents need to be kept before destroyed.

Keeping files on the computer instead of in storage is definitely more cost effective. It can be cheaper but is not necessary the safest way to store such documents. When archiving documents, there is no further maintenance involved. Backups are necessary for computers and hard drives do crash, even the backup hard drive, which could result in losing important documents.

Investing in software applications can save a lot of time and allowing employees to be more productive. It can also have the opposite effect if the employees are resistant to change or don’t use the software to its full capacity for lack of understanding. The initial investment can be quite expensive, and regular updates can be part of the package. It is also possible that the software application doesn’t keep up with technology, and becomes obsolete.

To reduce the amount of storage necessary for documents that need to be archived, image technology can be used for files. These files are then destroyed, and only the original files are archived. The records are stored for the required time at less cost. This is a great example of how paper and paperless technology can be used together to your advantage.

It will take time for society to crossover completely from paper to a paperless office. Perhaps it never will happen, or maybe a technology will be developed where original documents can be stored safely without being altered. Until that day, paper matters. Meanwhile society should concentrate on not using paper when paperless is an alternative, and to practice eco-friendly habits.

About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:

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