As World Paper Free Day (9th November) fast approaches, there is much attention being placed upon current progress in regards to the switchover to paper-free operations amongst British companies. In an effort to properly take stock of the current situation, Crown Records Management recently conducted a survey  of IT decision makers that revealed that, while we still have some way to go, the situation has already vastly improved.

The survey polled IT decision makers in companies of 100-1,000 employees, and found that as many as 66% of businesses now scan paper records for digital storage, while 65% possess a fully-searchable digital records archive. A reassuringly low figure of just 3% state that their place of work makes no effort to move towards a paper-free setup, or even reduce their usage at all.

It’s not all good news however, as the survey also revealed that 55% of respondents are unable to quickly locate and retrieve electronic records when required.

“It’s heartening to see that so many businesses are taking steps in the right direction when it comes to digitising their records,” commented Dominic Johnstone, Head of Information Management at Crown Records Management. “However, it seems that there may still be some way to go before UK offices are truly paper-free. A government target for the NHS to go completely digital by 2020 now seems unduly optimistic, with some predicting the earliest realistic date for a paperless NHS is 2027.”

With new legislation scheduled to come into effect from May 2018 which will allow individuals the right to ask for their personal information to be edited or deleted, those firms which struggle in regards to fast and reliable access to digitalised records are sure to encounter more than a few problems, and so efforts should be made to prepare ahead of time. The push for paper-free offices is undoubtedly important, but rather futile if these records cannot be found when needed.

“With these regulations fast approaching, it is worrying that over half of businesses say they aren’t able to quickly locate and retrieve electronic records,” stated Mr Johnstone.

“Whilst reducing paper use and digitising records is important, it is pointless if those records are not then quickly accessible. Businesses should have clear guidelines in place when reducing paper use to ensure that digital records are easy to access.

“Any business progressing towards a paper-free or paper-lite office but not ensuring their electronic records are accessible is setting themselves up for a major headache in the future – and it’s not a problem that can be ignored.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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