With World Paper Free Day – 9th November – fast approaching, a survey has uncovered that Britain is already two-thirds of the way there.
The tide has turned against the paper-reliant office, with a growing realisation that digitisation is more environmentally friendly and can, if properly formatted, improve access to vital information too.
A new survey polled IT decision makers in companies of between 100 and 1,000 employees across the country. It provided some encouraging results which suggest businesses are moving in the right direction – even if there is still work to be done.
The research revealed that 66 per cent of businesses say they now scan paper records and store them digitally and 65 per cent have a fully searchable digital records archive. Just 3 per cent say their business does nothing to move towards a paper-free or paper-lite office. Over 55 per cent say they can’t quickly locate and retrieve electronic records when required.
“It’s heartening to see that so many businesses are taking steps in the right direction when it comes to digitising their records,” said Dominic Johnstone, Head of Information Management at Crown Records Management, an information management company which helps businesses digitise their data.
“However, it seems that there may still be some way to go before UK offices are truly paper free. A government target for the NHS to go completely digital by 2020 now seems unduly optimistic, with some predicting the earliest realistic date for a paperless NHS is 2027.”
New legislation, such as the UK Data Bill and the forthcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation, due to come into force in May 2018, will give individuals the right to ask for their personal information to be edited or deleted.
“With these regulations fast approaching, it is worrying that over half of businesses say they aren’t able to quickly locate and retrieve electronic records.” Johnstone said.
“Whilst reducing paper use and digitising records is important, it is pointless if those records are not then quickly accessible. Businesses should have clear guidelines in place when reducing paper use to ensure that digital records are easy to access.
“Any business progressing towards a paper-free or paper-lite office but not ensuring their electronic records are accessible is setting themselves up for a major headache in the future – and it’s not a problem that can be ignored.”