By Jared Jaureguy
In a world that is constantly putting more and more trust in the hands of smartphones, tablets and desktops, one would expect paper to become obsolete. After all, itÂs easy to read the news, check your bank account, send emails to clients, and even shop all in the cyber world. However, many companies are reluctant to let go of their reliance on paper. This could be due to the necessity of physical documents in some cases or just lack of willingness to break with a habit.
There are important incentives for going paperless. Among them are faster speeds, better organization, and benefit to the environment. Recent changes in technology, one of them being the growth of the e-signature, have made it much easier for companies and organizations to make the change.
Why go paperless?
One of the biggest reasons is efficiency. Earlier this year, attention was drawn to the Department of Veterans Affairs, when it became obvious how inefficient their system was. Veterans filing claims for disability compensation and other benefits were waiting months and sometimes years for their files to be processed. Investigations into the problem revealed that part of the problem was that almost all of the veteranÂs claims were made on paper (97%). Piles and piles of paperwork had built up over the years, making the department incredibly inefficient.
Another reason is organization. Some feel that the old fashioned model of folders and file cabinets is the best way to stay organized. However, papers can easily be misplaced. Stacks of paperwork can build up, making it difficult to find anything. On the contrary, online files can be retrieved immediately.
Companies should also be concerned with the environmental impact their paper hoarding can have. Going digital helps in several ways. It saves trees that provide oxygen to the environment, lessens harmful substances released in paper industry, and reduces fuel consumption in transporting paper products. The U.S. pulp and paper industry is the second largest consumer of energy in the nation. Currently the average American office worker prints close to 10,000 pages per year. Simply deciding to use digital documents when possible can save significant amounts of oil, space, trees and energy.
How e-signatures can help
All companies and organizations use signed documents in their dealings with clients and colleagues. Printing long contracts inevitably generates a lot of paper.
Over ten years ago, the federal government passed a law giving credibility to electronic signatures, protecting them in courts of law. Over the years, the use of e-signatures has grown, as companies have adopted quick and efficient ways of transferring documents. Documents can be sent via email, read by customers (and explained over the phone if necessary), and signed by clicking boxes that show your acceptance of conditions. This method is just as safe, if not safer, than the traditional method. Most companies password protect the documents and store them in secure servers. Some even go as far as to encrypt documents when they receive them, making them virtually impossible to hack. To eliminate the possibility of tampering and fraud, the documents are made available to both parties, so no one can change them after they are signed.
The use of e-signatures is on the rise, with companies continuing to make it an easier process, and integrating them into user friendly formats on social media and personalized websites.
There are many ways that a company can go paperless, from basic email to digital record keeping. However, e-signatures are leading the way and will certainly help companies in the future become more efficient, organized and ecologically friendly.