From Paper “Light” to Paperless: 9 Signs the Office of the Future is Here to Stay
They told you that the “office of the future” meant hovercrafts, smart robot assistants, teleportation pods and warp-speed. Instead, 30 years later, we still have a physical office that’s almost the same in every respect — except that it feels less cluttered. The way we do business is changing so streamlining is inevitable.
Here are 9 signs that your workplace is moving from the 10th floor offices to “living in the cloud”.
1. Archiving is a “lost” art
For the “traditional” office, records, files or stores information of any kind requires a huge allocation of physical space. It also means the potential to lose archived information.
This can include sensitive customer information as well as previous internal financial information of the company.
But how do you pull them if you can’t find them in your archiving system? Going for a paperless system and moving to digital storage is a space (and money!) saver.
2. Sensitive documents are exposed to the elements
How do you prevent someone who doesn’t have the right permissions or clearance to view sensitive information from either deliberately accessing files or catching a glimpse of a printed document?
Well, you can’t.
When documents live in the cloud, supervisors can grant role-based permissions, lock documents for viewing, set passwords and disable the ability to download.
3. File storage is costing the business a not-so-pretty penny
During the initial growth phase, operating costs like printer maintenance, storage space, cabinet purchases and stationary can add up.
Besides hiring and training, the first places companies will look to “cost-cut” is these small but real costs.
Keeping files online, in a common, intranet-type shared folder is a smart and cost-friendly way to keep a business’s costs lean.
Google Drive is a user-friendly platform for creating and storing files in the cloud. Just like Microsoft Office, it supports commenting and editing. Because everything happens in the cloud, users can collaborate on a single version of a document from different locations and see the changes immediately.
4. Employees need instant access
It’s not only about losing what you need — it’s about effectively finding what you need.
If employees are wasting time trying to find relevant files or failing to trace its current whereabouts, it doesn’t just mean a frustrating situation for employees.
It also means a decrease in workplace productivity. With all the distractions and meeting requests, do team members really need a new way to waste time?
5. Your clients are already living in the cloud
Paper invoices have two major issues: firstly, there’s no way to track them and trace whether they’ve been viewed or whether a payment has been made. Expect the excuse, “Oh, I just missed it!” or, “I don’t see your invoice yet — maybe it got lost in the mail?” a fair bit.
Secondly, paper invoices don’t hook up easily to accounting systems in-house. When an invoice is paid, it can take weeks for the payment to be received and then to be reflected.
Essentially, there’s a huge disconnect between the business’s needs, the client’s expectations and the system of billing, invoicing and accounting directly affecting the bottom line.
The good news is that it’s a rift that can be easily mended with online invoicing tools like MoneyPenny. You can issue invoices, track expenses and calculate timesheets, all in 1 place, in the cloud.
Instead of archaic accounting and billing processes, companies using software to send recurring invoices get paid three times faster and recover up to 86% of their receivables in the first 30 days of billing.
6. Remote Employees & Telecommuting
A study by Gallup shows that three in 10 workers are self-employed. The “office of the future” is likely to outsource major parts of projects to independent contractors and freelancers.
And many of these “solo” operators are working from various places around the world, in homes or dedicated co-working spaces.
Location independence is a reality for in-house employees as well. Since 2016, 49% of adults telecommute for work for one to three days a week — and this statistic is expected to grow.
Remote team members must have a way to bill companies through live team tracking and hour logging software, rather than a simple “fillable” spreadsheet.
7. Live Project Updates
Remote workers will require software and tools to collaborate over their geographical distances.
For example, if a team is working on a website that involves a designer, copywriter and programmer, they’ll each access the page in different ways. The UX designer might create a wireframe that a programmer will have to code and a copywriter will then have to populate with content.
Only live, digital collaboration is going to make the project a success.
Using a project management tool like Trello will help you organize your own workspace. You can give all relevant team members access to a board, and assign them to a particular card. That way, everyone can comment on what’s happening, stay up-to-date, and track progress on a project from a central place.
8. Admin Instead of On-boarding
Account executives and field sales personnel should stay in their lane and do what they do best — selling — right?
The truth is that these key players waste time with admin rather than directly engaging with clients through the on-boarding process itself.
With a “paperless” system, sales/account execs could, through their mobile phones, register, on-bard and set up profiles for their customer. For the salesperson, this means less time wasted on data entry.
9. Customer Complaints
These moments of misstep and oversight lead to one thing: inconsistency. And inconsistency leads to customer dissatisfaction, a higher chance for complaints and customer churn.
To deliver a spotless customer experience, make sure that every aspect of the interaction optimized. And having a paper-based system simply leaves too much room for err and delayed response.
In the age of omnichannel selling and social media brand interaction, consider this: 13% of frustrated customers will tell 15 or more people if they’re unhappy — versus the 72% who will share a positive experience with 6 or more people.
If your company is seeing even three out of nine signs, these numbers tell you that the odds are ever in your favor. The office of the future is actually the need of the hour — embrace and innovate or risk falling behind.
About the Author:
Anka Zielinska: I’m a business consultant and online marketing expert. I love all about technologies. In my spare time I’m a dedicated triathlete and a board game geek.
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