The Datamax Thinking Blog

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Greening the Office/Workgroup Environment

By Jon Reardon

The “green” wave is finally working its way into the daily conversation and consciousness of American business. Although this topic is complex, multi-faceted, and far too sophisticated to be covered adequately in a one time blog entry, I thought I might take this opportunity to focus on one tiny element of business sustainability: document capture and scanning.

Reducing the negative impact of a business on the environment has become an imperative strategic initiative for an ever increasing number of SMB and enterprise class organizations. The methods being used to achieve this goal range from reducing resource usage and implementing carbon offsets to recycling and engaging in many other green activities: this list goes on and on.

Many organizations are finding that document management solutions and imaging products are integral to their environmental agenda, assuming they have one. Among other benefits, businesses that implement document management strategies often experience a dramatic reduction in their company-wide paper consumption and CO2 emissions through the reduced printing, postage, and storage of everyday business documents. An obvious way to reduce paper usage in the office is to use scanners to convert paper-based documents to digital format. Although there is still a paper component in the scanning process, the purpose of the process of the workflow (i.e.: scan to repository) is to reduce paper and increase efficiency. This results in other positive residual effects on the environment such as reducing the storage or physical mailing/transporting of paper-based documents, which can impact fuel costs related to the transportation of those documents.

In the case of the office/workgroup, reducing the consumption of environmental resources, , can be accomplished by addressing the endless sea of paper that is used by implementing an electronic document management system. The digital age has already transformed the office environment as it relates to paper. Just 20 years ago, the office did not have tools like the Internet or e-mail. The Internet has changed the dynamics of communications and had some positive effect on our environment, as it has led to less copying of documents and a lower volume of memos being sent around the office or to other locations. One would think that the shift to electronic storage and transport of documents electronically would benefit the planet and reduce the consumption of paper-based documents, but the question remains whether our generation is still printing pages at its destination and/or reprinting electronically stored documents.

As with any tool or technology, it is how these mechanisms are deployed, managed, and policed that can really make the difference when attempting to bring about change. Taking the initiative to set these policies, put these practices (to store more and print less) into place, and make a conscious effort to help future generations is really the only way we will be able to make a difference.

This article was originally posted on the Document Imaging Blog.