Digital workplace: 5 benefits of the paperless office


More than half a decade ago, the Belgian government issued a policy statement that read “The government wants to be a digital government before the end of the legislature. Every department must get rid of the paper mountain”. The move may have seemed somewhat visionary at the time, especially coming from a public institution, but the need to go digital and move away from traditional formats is today recognized across almost every company in any industry, including governmental institutions.  


Technically, there isn’t much standing in the way of moving to a paperless office. Servers can provide enough space and processing power to handle virtually any amount of data and files. That doesn’t mean you have to replace your shelves with a server room:  there are plenty of cloud providers you can choose from. And today’s high-speed networks allow users to work on a tablet, or smartphone as if all the information were stored on their devices.

However, some organizations still struggle with the idea of being 100% digital, with entire teams spending time filing, organizing and fumbling through a maze of paper documents instead of on more productive tasks. If you’re planning to transform into a paperless organization this year and looking for strategies to get everyone on board with going digital, look no further! Here are five benefits of transforming your office into a digital workplace.

1. Put the content where the users go

One of the key-benefits of digitization is that it enables you to put the content where the employees are. Whether your team is working from your headquarters, at offices throughout the world, from home, on the train, in a hotel or at a conference; basically anywhere. That gives the employee more flexibility to work anytime, anywhere and allows the employer to save on office space. With teams spread around the globe, moving to a Digital Workplace can be a true game changer. For example, when marketing teams are dispersed through different countries, having shared workspaces takes marketing collaboration to a new level. From Microsoft Teams to Skype for Business meetings, all the Office 365 tools help ensure a similar way of working where all team members are aligned and up-to-date on projects timeline and status.

2. Extend team collaboration beyond corporate walls 

For a lot of projects, companies have to collaborate with external partners. If all project-related documents are digitized and made available on a system which everyone involved has access to, collaboration is so much easier. Forget emailing around your documents, it’s all on one system that’s accessible anywhere. Technologies such as Office 365 are the safest way of managing business information when it comes to collaborating directly with clients, partners or vendors.

3. Get results the agile way 

Digitization gives companies an enormous efficiency-boost. No more looking around for the dossier you need (whether it is in a cabinet somewhere or on a shared drive with potential security issues). Not only can you search and find the file you are looking for at speed, but a lot of previously routine tasks, such as cross-checking information, are virtually eliminated. This was exactly the case of one of our most recent success stories, following the journey of a public institution from a bureaucratic, paper-centric structure to 100% digital processes. The EU innovators community platform is also an impressive example of how a digital collaboration platform enables entrepreneurs to develop their capacities, share ideas and best practices, as well as engage with potential investors through an ecosystem of tools and services.

4. Improve productivity

Together with your content, your business processes will also be digitized. This will enable companies to generate reports instantly, on live-data and pinpoint possible improvements very quickly. It goes without saying that in heavily regulated industries such as Manufacturing or Life Sciences, having this kind of real-time insight is mission critical, not only in terms of compliance, but also to improve productivity. Our recent global pharma document management project had such outstanding results saving time for teams across Legal, Product Management, Quality Management and Compliance departments, that it was even nominated for an award for Project Excellence from the International Project Management Association (IPMA-NL).

5. Empty shelves and free up office space

A few years ago, Acolad partnered with the social welfare department of the city of Ghent. Their offices were distributed across the city and dossiers had to be moved around from office to office. There were over 500 meters of shelves stacked with paper documents. All of this content was scanned, digitized and loaded onto an Alfresco-based document management system. Now every employee of the social welfare department has instant access to all the documents needed. Collaboration is easier. And the city of Ghent has a bunch of empty shelves.

And what’s next?

What if everybody digitized and all that digitized content were to be integrated? What if you could monitor the construction of the car you just bought together with all the information regarding the loan application, the registration of your car, your driver’s license information and maybe even details concerning that fine you just got, all in one interface?

I hope you share my imagination and see the possibilities.