Paperless office is defined as a work environment where use of paper is either completely eliminated or greatly reduced. Working in the Pharma, millions of stories have been told of how it used to be back in the day. Most of the submissions were done via paper and it was a task that many people
hated dreaded. Fast forward years later and practically all submissions are now done electronically. There are only a number of submissions that are still paper. Comparing ‘back then’ to now within the company, there has been almost 80% elimination of paper submissions.
Paperless office is really the latest crazy in the corporate world. We are trying to be environmentally friendly but what are some of the pros and cons of a paperless office. I have been working in pharma for just under five years now and I have seen the changes happening in companies with regards to going paperless.
One of the changes is the use of electronic databases or platforms within the pharma industry tailored to support the company business needs. An example, previously pharma companies captured clinical trial data on paper, now everything can be captured electronically. IDBS is a company that is offering R&D companies the option to have Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELN) a one stop shop for data management. The need to have a paperless office has brought about developments of a multitude of softwares that are adaptive dependent on company needs. That is all well and good but one still has to think about the pros and cons of a paperless office.
PROS and CONS of Paperless Office
As with everything in life, there are always Pros and Cons, regardless of whether it is an improvement or not. I have decided to list what I consider to be the pros and cons of a paperless office and share some of my experiences.
- Save Money – I think every company in the current economy is thinking of ways to save money, paper included. Naturally if you use less paper, you spend less money on buying paper.
- Being environmentally friendly – using less paper we are saving a tree from being cut down. We are encouraging forestation.
- Save Space – Working in an office, you always need somewhere to store the paper for printing. Using less paper creates more room for other equipments.
- Remote access – If all documents are electronic, they can be accessed anywhere in the world. Utilising the advancements in technology, documents can be saved on a cloud and be accessible.
- Software updates can be very expensive. Added expense when there is no internal IT support.
- Train new staff or users. overtime you change softwares, the staff will need to be re-trained.
- Regular back-ups are necessary in case of a file corruption, hacking or computer viruses.
- Human error is a big factor because information is only as good as the information added.
- Finally privacy becomes an issue because everything electronic is potentially hackable.
I am all for a paperless office because it allows me to work from anywhere in the world and not be restricted to one location. But I still have to think about all the potential privacy issues that technology brings about.
A paperless office is more efficient but one can argue as mentioned above, it is only as good as the training given. Human error is a huge factor but the right training can reduced the risk.
What are your thoughts on a paperless office?