Published Friday, February 3rd, 2012, by Mike Sullivan.
That’s a good question—and it’s a big trend in many industries. With the rising mobile workforce trend, the green office trend, and the virtual law office trend, among others, is paper going to go the way of the dinosaur?
First, let’s look at what a paperless office is.
A paperless office is just that—paperless. Instead of driving from a home office to the market center at odd hours, agents can send their contracts to the home base via e-mail or by way of facsimile that digitizes paper and delivers it directly to the market center administrator’s e-mail box. Agents who are in the office can digitize contracts using a newfangled photocopier that scans the paper and shoots it off to a central server.
Of course, the digital files are backed up, re-backed up and backed up again to assure that nothing is lost. In addition to storing the files on two servers, you can also store them on a desktop computer or on tapes drives and CD-ROMs that are stored off site. You can even automate your backups through services like SugarSync.
Many many law firms are making plans to go paperless. According to a survey from Robert Half Legal, law firms increasingly see technology as the key differentiator in a competitive market—and storing files digitally is less expensive, more convenient, and eco-friendlier than printing and stacking boxes of paper files. Could that work for your business center?
Think contracts. Should hard copies of tenant agreements be a thing of the past in a mobile worker world? Most legal consultants believe hard copies are facing extinction, though exactly when the paperless office goes mainstream is questionable. The paperless office has been prophesied for more than a decade and, despite its many benefits, many firms still choose to print documents, according to Dr. Gavin Manes, president and CEO of Avansic, a digital forensics firm in Tulsa.
“Sometimes it’s just easier to review a print copy than an electronic copy. However, once reviewed, it is most often shredded,” Manes says. “As electronic document review systems become more sophisticated and have higher user acceptance and paper documents are more easily reviewed online, printing may become less and less common.”
Many believe the transition to the paperless office is inevitable. The healthcare industry has moved to digital X-rays, electronic patient records and digital signatures. The last hold out may be consumers. Even if your business center doesn’t go totally paperless, you can take a hybrid approach and work to do as much as possible digitally—or at least give tenant’s the option.