Can you remember a time before cell phones? Honestly, what did we do? How did we find anything? I was trying to explain this novel concept to my daughter while we were cleaning out the garage this past weekend. I tried to convince her that life was better back before cell phones. I decided to show her old photo albums—maybe she would feel the sting of nostalgia and agree that times in the past were far better than her TikTok-crazed, Instagram life supposedly shows.
As we turned through the pages, I found a whole page of photos completely damaged. Water or some other substance had ruined our family vacation photos! Discouraged but undeterred, I shifted to bringing out the love letters I wrote her mom. I found the shoebox and opened it with wide eyes, but yet again, time had not been too kind to these relics. Wrinkled edges and smudged ink were sentimental but hard to read. So we sat there, me wishing for things to go back to a time that was easier and slower-paced, but also seeing my daughter struggle to fully appreciate these family moments with their obvious defects. And while I’ll never lose the nostalgia that comes with these memories, it did help me realize one thing: Paper sucks!
Paper employee records are inefficient and you’ll miss something
The old way of looking up a document was inefficient, time-consuming, and honestly pretty dumb. You would spend most of the time trying to just locate the file cabinet, and THEN you could finally jump into the actual research you needed to do to find the information. Why do you think libraries did away with this archaic method?
Speed of access: Compare the time it takes to find a digital document versus a paper one is like comparing a Ferrari to a Ford Model T! Invariably, it is quicker to find an electronic document.
Flexibility: This is an invaluable and efficient method to ensure organizations do not give out permissions to sensitive data. Electronic record keeping allows the controller to set workflows automatically, alert leaders when changes are made in the system, and create a digital audit trail for maximum checks and balances.
Digital employee records are infinitely more shareable and searchable
If you’ve been using paper documents, you have likely experienced the frustration of not being able to find a document when you need it. Documents get misfiled, misplaced, or accidentally thrown away.
Shareability: In a paper-free office, not only can business documents be easily filed and organized, but they can also be shared to the team, no matter where they are.
Searchability: The next time you are reading a book and you are trying to remember where you met the “new” character, how nice would it be if you had the ability to easily search the character’s name and learn immediately, where, who, and how. Digital technology allows the user to search for the document using keywords and terms from within the document. To compare searching a digital document to looking for a keyword in a paper document is like comparing a walk in the park to running a marathon carrying your dog!
You’re wasting office space
There was a time when the basements, or worse yet, off-site storage areas, were essential for safeguarding sensitive documents. The office manager would also be in charge of locking the file cabinet while simultaneously ensuring all documents in the folder were appropriate. Electronic document management solutions, whether in the cloud or on an institutional server, take up far less physical space. To maintain paper documents, you will need a large physical filing system that will take up significant space over time. Digital documents can be saved in the cloud, accessed anywhere, and allow you to make much better use of your limited office space.
IRL document retention and destruction compliance wastes time
There is a huge difference between someone who keeps 20-year-old knick knacks their kids made and an organization that keeps their clients’ 12-year-old tax returns. How long should you hold on to your business records before destroying them? What gets destroyed and why? What is legally required to be kept longer than the rest? All these retention and destruction needs become a lot less complicated and easier to maintain with a digital system. As an organization, the employer is required to retain certain legal and official documents. Failure to comply with these regulations could lead to penalties.
The benefits of transitioning to a 100% digital platform are massive. This article touched on the top 4 reasons why Whirks believes it’s a best practice to start the process or at least begin thinking through how to become more digitally friendly in the future. If you are lacking speed of access, shareability, or space we encourage you to move to a paperless process/system. When we do that, we all win.