How outdated work practices impact sustainability
People have been declaring paper dead since the computer entered the workplace. Despite this prediction, there are some areas — such as contracts and invoices — where paper’s grip has proved to be tenacious. That hold was loosened somewhat when the pandemic forced remote working arrangements, and it will further weaken going forward as businesses seek to reduce their environmental footprint.
Paper by the numbers
With a distributed workforce, handling large volumes of incoming and outgoing documents comes at a risk. Research by Deloitte Access Economics estimates there are over 1.2 billion invoices exchanged annually, with 89% of SMEs still processing paper-based or PDF formats. Paper can be lost or damaged and requires a lot of manual, tedious work to sort and read through, creating a risk of missing important information. On top of that, as businesses shift to hybrid work models, important mail may not be attended to in the right amount of time.
The ACT Government’s recycling service states approximately 20 full-grown trees are required to produce a tonne of non-recycled paper, with the average office worker using around 50 kg of paper a year — equivalent to around 10,000 sheets of A4 paper.
Organisations and agencies are increasingly turning away from outdated paper mailroom systems and embarking on a journey to digitise processes through intelligent automation (IA).
Throughout the pandemic and remote work period, we saw a 60% decrease in paper purchases and 65% fewer scope 3 emissions from paper purchased. While this reduction shows progress, to sustain it as we return to the office, both public and private sectors must embrace connected IA solutions.
IA delivers a sustainable solution
We’re in an age of rapid digitisation, where IA is evolving to provide sustainable, cost-effective solutions, fuelling better outcomes for businesses and environment.
Many businesses and organisations have begun adopting document digitisation systems to combat this challenge. However, recreating a document digitally isn’t enough to keep business processes running smoothly unless it gets to the right person at the right time. Without connected processes and workflows, it isn’t a true transition to paperless.
Leaning on IA capabilities to carve out future-thinking solutions can lead to a sustainable and economically thriving workforce. Let’s take the traditional mailroom, for instance. If we allow IA to redesign managing a business’s incoming information, we will see reduced paper use, reduced waste, reduced costs and reduced errors, and all with great speed and accuracy. The stigma behind the cost of implementing sustainable work practices has long held that sustainability is expensive. However, Deloitte Access Economics estimates that every time an e-invoice replaces a paper invoice, it can deliver up to $20 in cost savings to the business involved.
We also see greater employee satisfaction by eliminating menial tasks, freeing employees to focus on work that adds value and improves the customer experience.
Organisations and agencies that step into the ‘modern mailroom’ today benefit from a long list of advantages, and those who’ve already made the switch are seeing tangible results through this transformation of workflows.
By integrating a flexible and agile IA platform that’s capable of automating manual, information-intensive workflows at scale, businesses can adapt quickly to the ever-changing market conditions in a considered and strategic way.
The entire customer journey becomes simpler and more powerful, and each workplace takes a large step in the right direction to creating a sustainable organisation and environment.
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