For the past several months the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis has forced many employees to work from home where they’ve generated a large volume of new documents, both as data files and as printed paper. Now that many states are lifting stay-at-home orders, employees are starting to return to their offices. Companies have to manage those documents created by their remote employees, as well and creating secure document management for your returning workforce, and processes for those employees that continue to work from home.

Creating a New Digital Workspace

For many workers, the big post-coronavirus change is that they get to return to the office environment. Other employees, however, will adopt permanent work-from-home status. According to the Gartner research firm, about a quarter of employers expect 10% of their employees to continue to work from home post-crisis; another 17% of employers expect 20% of their employees to continue working remotely.

This newly permanent remote workforce creates a raft of new issues for their employers. According to Unify Square, the top five challenges include managing remote teams, dealing with hardware and infrastructure issues, security, app access and training, and video and sound quality during teleconferences.

It comes down to the challenge of having to manage a multiple-location workforce. Some employees will work from the office, others from their homes. All employees will need access to the same data and documents, and that access needs to be both transparent and secure. In essence, an employer needs to create a new digital workspace that is not defined by physical boundaries.

Document Management in the Digital Workspace

Document management becomes a crucial component of the new digital workspace. To share documents of any type between workers in disparate locations, they must exist in digital format. One can store digital data in either centralized or dispersed locations. Team members can share it over the Internet via email, message, web conferencing, and dedicated apps. Employers can make it secure to protect against theft or unauthorized access. Team members can use it wherever they’re located.

For the digital workspace to work, all existing documents need to be digitized. It is challenging if not impossible for employees working from home to access paper documents. While employees can fax some documents to remote locations, not all employees can – and that ancient technology is slow, cumbersome, and non-secure. The better solution is to scan all paper documents to digital format, and then store those data files in a secure location with Internet access for all team members.

This type of document management also applies to other parts of the business process that rely on document processing. Take, for example, contracts or forms that need customer signatures. Instead of physically signing paper documents, customers can use digital signatures to sign electronic documents, and transmit them over the internet to store digitally. (Digitizing these processes also has the benefit of making many processes more efficient and more secure.)

When all documents are digital and accessible remotely, data security can become an issue. The digital workspace requires secure communications, secure systems, and secure storage. Some companies may require remote workers to use a virtual private network (VPN) to securely access the corporate network and resources. Other companies may utilize cloud-based solutions to facilitate secure remote access. Strong passwords and encryption should protect all digital assets, no matter where stored.

The key is to eliminate as many physical documents and processes as possible – and create a safe, secure, easy-to-use digital workplace for all remote and in-office workers.

Managing Documents from the Last Two Months

As companies reopen their offices to a returning workforce, they face the challenge of what to do with those documents generated over the past two months of remote work. Some of these documents are electronic, such as Microsoft Word or Excel files.

The electronic documents should not be a problem; they can easily be uploaded to the company’s secure server for longer-term storage. The paper documents, however, represent a true document management challenge.

The solution, of course, is document management software. Document management software allows organizations to scan, import, process, tag, and introduce critical business content into enterprise content management systems.

Another alternative is to scan all relevant paper documents into digital files. Individual employees can do this at home – if they own scanners or MFPs and if they have the time to properly do so. A better solution is to have returning employees bring their essential paper documents into the office and let a document management service handle the scanning, digitization, and storage in a secure fashion. Document management professionals have the tools and training to handle this type of bulk data capture– and to route the resulting data files into the appropriate business processes.

Companies should securely shred all remaining paper documents, of course. The document management service can also handle this.

Choose RJ Young for Your Company’s Document Management

RJ Young provides document management services for all types and sizes of businesses. With more than 60 years of experience we can help digitize documents created by your remote workforce and implement new document management processes for the digital workspace.

Contact RJ Young today to discuss document management services for your business.

Did you know the average worker produces 10,000 sheets of paper each year? Living in a world of increasingly wireless networks and connected devices—from laptops to tablets, to smartphones and even smartwatches—many organizations, big to small, are surprisingly still dependent upon paper, including the technology and energy required to produce paper documents.

As we approach Earth Day, the day set aside each year to show support for environmental protection, worldwide, we want to share 5 tips to help you reduce the consumption of energy and materials required to produce paper documents.

1. Install a Managed Print Services Program

Many offices continue to operate with a fleet of single function devices such as printers, scanners or fax machines. Most often, these single-function devices can be replaced with multi-functional, or all-in-one, devices that print, scan and send/receive faxes.

2. Mandate Efficient Print Settings

Most modern multi-functional devices are equipped with control mechanisms, or are can be updated with software, to mandate efficient printing settings such as forced black and white printing, draft quality printing and two-sided printing. These print settings can immediately reduce the amount of consumables used to print documents.

3. Reduce Abandoned Prints with Secure Print Release

Statistics have shown that over 40% of printing is unnecessary, which is supported by other reports that one-in-five print outs is never picked up, left abandoned—which can also lead to compliance issues (but that’s another blog topic). Simple software installations that require a badge-swipe or code entry to release print jobs can reduce abandoned prints and wasted printing.

4. Implement Document Management 

Electronic storage and retrieval of information is the ideal strategy to help reduce consumables and energy related to printing. Most office technology companies can assist in designing and implementing an effective document management strategy to ensure documents are stored, backed-up and easy to retrieve digitally.

5. Select Energy Efficient Equipment

Today’s office equipment, like most technology, continually improves to consume less energy, go to sleep when not in use for set periods of time and other features to help reduce your energy consumption. If your multifunctional devices are a bit aged, upgrade to save on energy costs.

Going green in your office is easier than you think. Your local office technology dealer can help you select the most energy and cost efficient equipment and software for your business.

Chastity Fox, Director of Advertising & Marketing

Chastity has more than 15 years of experience developing strategies, tactics and executing projects to help businesses grow. She is a digital marketing and technology enthusiast, leveraging this to boost productivity and move businesses forward. A graduate of MTSU (and also completed coursework at NYU), Chastity is a Tennessee native. She resides in Leiper’s Fork, a small town in Williamson County, Tennessee with husband, Brent, and Golden Retriever, Duke.