In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the US. This once-in-a-century global event turned life as we know it completely on its head.
As the virus spread, lock-downs swept across the country, and uncertainty was at an all-time high. Any business deemed as nonessential was forced to shut down, leaving employees wondering if and when they were going to be able to get back to work.
As time passed, it became clear that things weren’t going back to normal anytime soon, forcing many businesses to allow their employees to work remotely in order to avoid layoffs or shutdowns.
What started off as a temporary solution gradually became the norm, as businesses and their employees discovered a variety of unexpected benefits of working remotely.
And just like that, the way we think about how and where people work changed forever.
Fast forward nearly two years later, and it’s abundantly clear that remote working isn’t going anywhere post COVID-19.
In fact, nearly half of all workers who had previously worked in an office say that they prefer telecommuting, even if for only part of the time. 59% of workers said they would be more likely to choose an employer who offered remote/hybrid work options, compared to those who didn’t.
And it’s not just employees who see the benefits of working from home.
Employers have discovered that their employees are happier, more productive, and more engaged when working remotely.
Many businesses, including Microsoft and Facebook, have pledged to make remote working a permanent fixture, while others have adopted hybrid work model, where attendance in the office is required, but only part of the time. According to a survey conducted by Gatner, 74% of CFO respondents said that they intend on shifting some employees to remote work permanently.
Unfortunately, not all businesses are properly equipped to make the transition to a remote workforce.
Organizations that continue to rely on paper will find it especially difficult to near impossible to facilitate remote work. While there are certainly workarounds to working with paper documents remotely, doing so can present a number of security risks, especially when dealing with confidential information.
For this reason, many businesses are moving away from paper in favor of digital document storage. By storing and managing documents digitally, businesses can address workflow issues inhibiting remote work, improve employee productivity, and enhance the security of their data.
In our article, we will explore the benefits of a remote workforce, and how leaving outdated, manual paper processes behind can help your business better adapt to emerging employment trends.
What are the benefits of a remote workforce?
Remote working isn’t a particularly new or innovative concept. In fact, before the pandemic started, a global movement towards remote work was already underway. As COVID-19 forced people into seclusion, remote work became the mainstream.
Since then, businesses of all sizes in every industry have discovered that remote working offers many benefits to both the business and employees alike.
Some benefits include:
An Endless Pool of Talent
Organizations that have successfully implemented work from home/telecommuting protocols have the ability to hire talent from anywhere in the world, without having to pay tens of thousands of dollars in relocation costs. This provides exciting new opportunities for employers looking to hire individuals with a specialized set of skills or experience that may otherwise be difficult to find.
Reduced Operating Costs
Providing a place for employees to work is a big expense for most businesses. Purchasing computers and software, providing electricity, water, and internet service, and other employee related expenses adds up over time.
Global Workplace Analytics, a research and consulting firm that helps employers understand and prepare for the future of work, estimates that a typical U.S. employer can save an average of $11,000 per employee, per year by allowing workers to telecommute 50% of the time.
While there are many factors analyzed in their calculations, the primary savings came from increased employee productivity, decreased employee turnover, and lower real estate costs.
Other areas where businesses can save money when working remotely include:
- Office space / rent / lease
- Utilities, including internet service, water and power
- Cleaning and office maintenance
- Computers, printers, and networking equipment
- Office furniture like desks, chairs, filing cabinets, etc.
- Paper, folders and other office supplies
Improved Employee Retention Rate
It’s no secret that employee retention is an important part of running a successful business. High employee turnover rates have a number of negative impacts on the productivity and morale of your team, and can be a roadblock that stands in the way of meaningful business growth.
Providing employees with the flexibility and convenience of a hybrid / remote position is a simple and effective way to reduce employee attrition rates.
In a workplace study conducted by Crain’s, 78% of those surveyed pointed to flexible work schedules and the option to telecommute as the most effective non monetary benefit a company can offer to improve employee retention.
There are also financial incentives for businesses . Hiring and training new employees is a significant investment, with U.S. businesses spending up to $4000 to hire a new employee on average.
Now more than ever, employee retention is crucial, as many businesses are facing talent shortages and a tight labor market, making it difficult to fill open positions with qualified candidates.
Companies that offer more flexibility in work arrangements may have the best chance of attracting top talent at the best price, as in 10 employees working remotely say they are extremely likely to seek another job if their company eliminates remote work.
Increased Employee Productivity
One of the most surprising revelations that came from the work-from-home experiment during the peak of the pandemic was the increases in employee productivity while working from home.
A study of 16,000 workers conducted by Standford University found that working from home increased employee productivity by 13% on average. The increase in performance was attributed to fewer distractions, more consistent work attendance, and improved work satisfaction.
The added convenience and flexibility of working from home is beneficial for both employers and their employees.
For starters, employees with the option to work remotely tend to have better attendance records, as remote work makes it possible to schedule work hours around appointments and other scheduling conflicts.
Workers who feel under the weather but would rather not take time off can choose to work from home to prevent coworkers from getting sick. And workers who deal with inclimate weather conditions can choose to work home when the roads aren’t safe to drive instead of taking the day off.
Employees with flexible work schedules also tend to work during the hours they are most productive, often with fewer distractions and interruptions.
Reduced Environmental Impact
While it may not be a leading factor in the decision to offer remote work options to employees, it’s certainly worth noting that reducing telecommuting results in fewer cars out on the roads.
An increase in telecommuting means fewer cars on the road which results in fewer emissions. Transportation accounts for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to the EPA, and a huge percentage of that traffic is generated by workers traveling to and from work.
Remote workers also produce less paper and plastic byproducts, as they typically eat and drink at home.
How does going paperless better prepare businesses for the future of work?
Now that remote work is here to stay, businesses have one more reason to eliminate antiquated paper processes from their day-to-day operations.
Most people already know that paper is a slow, inefficient, and outdated way to store frequently accessed information. But as many businesses have discovered, it also makes remote work impossible. Employees without proper access to the information they need are unable to fulfill their job duties from home as they need direct access to physical documents of filing cabinets.
While the total elimination of paper may not be entirely feasible for every business, even a small reduction in paper documents can help to facilitate remote work.
By storing and managing documents digitally, businesses are able to provide their employees with secure, controlled access to the documents they need, regardless of location. It also provides significant benefits for on-site employees, improving collaboration with co-workers, increasing productivity, and improving the efficiency of everyday tasks.
It’s no secret then that getting rid of paper is well worth the investment, but many businesses have no idea where to start.
How does a business make the transition away from paper?
Transforming your existing paper processes won’t happen overnight. It requires a lot of careful planning and consideration at the outset. The basic steps you will need to follow are:
- Build a solid understanding of how documents are generated and at what regularity / volume.
- Review cloud based applications to find a solution that best fits the document storage needs of your business.
- Create a plan for digitizing records as they are created.
- Replace current paper based processes with digital workflows and phase out old systems
- Convert paper archives into digital file systems by scanning, indexing and uploading documents to cloud based document storage.
While some businesses choose to use their existing staff and resources to complete this process internally, it can be difficult to do so efficiently without interfering with day-to-day operations.
For this reason, many businesses instead choose to hire a professional scanning company like SecureScan. Our professional scanning service ensures that the process of digitizing your paper files is completed quickly and efficiently, and in most cases, costs less than doing it yourself. If you’re ready to modernize the way you manage your data, we can help. Contact us to learn more about our document scanning services and get a free quote from one of our document management experts.