The hardest part in making the transition to the electronic world and operating a paperless office is working out where to begin, followed by removing the overwhelming thought of having to find the time to make the transition. Most of us have this notion of how hard and time consuming the transition is going to be. The transition itself is easy and when completed in stages it is no longer overwhelming or time consuming.
The anxiety that the change can cause and the emotion that some may not be aware is occurring is what makes us think and feel as though a transition to a paperless office is not possible, that it is too hard or we just do not have the time required. The transition is not instant, it does not happen overnight and if the process is not approached by the best way that works for you and your business, it is likely to be extremely daunting, overwhelming and place undue stress on you and your staff. What works for others may not work for you and what works for you may not work for others.
We tend to forget that all of our businesses are different. We may undertake the same work, use the same programs and achieve the same result being Settlement, however, we each undertake the work, use the programs and achieve the final result of Settlement in different ways, using different processes. Once we understand that we are all different in the way we operate, it makes it easier to assess where our best starting point is.
For me, the best starting point was removing my Manila Folders and only having my Plastic Pockets and Settlement Packets. I had already started the transition without realising as I held so little on my files. I realistically had no need for the Manila Folders, however falling into the fear trap, I struggled with anxiety at the thought of no longer having my Manila Folders. In order to alleviate the anxiety I was feeling, I kept
all of my empty Manila Folders in a pile in the cupboard just in case I could not do it and needed them back. It was not long before I completely forgot about the Manila Folders and about six months later I was looking for something and found my empty Manilla Folders. With finding my Manilla Folders that I forgot about so quickly, it dawned on me that small change is not difficult if we think about and acknowledge the positive effect that the change will have on us and embrace the change no matter how little rather than thinking with fear and doubting our ability to make the change.
The mammoth changes in our industry show just how adaptable we are if we except change rather than fight it. If you look at those you know in the industry and compare the ones who embraced the changes with those who fought the changes, you will see a pattern. For those who embraced the changes we see and hear of their increased productivity, a better work/life balance giving them the ability to work poolside and to enjoy more in life, whereas for those who fought the change we often see and hear of ongoing stress, unproductive busyness and someone who is still tied to their office.
My office is in my handbag, I literally can work from anywhere in the world. As long as I have some form of internet connection, I can operate the same as I would in my office even down to being able to answer my landline and call clients from my landline.
By making the transition to being 100% Paperless, I have found that my overheads have decreased and both my staff and myself have substantially increased in productivity and in turn I have achieved a higher profit margin since making the transition.
From my experience with the transition to the electronic world and being successfully 100% Paperless, I have been contacted by many of our colleagues within the industry asking how I was able to make the transition and requesting the help and guidance so they too can make the transition.
The advice I can provide to make the transition is:
- What works for others may not work for you. Assess how you operate and what you need.
- Make the transition in stages as multiple small changes are easier than one large change.
- Ensure you have good processes in place. If you do not have the right processes in place the transition will be overwhelming, cause a loss in time and may cause you to miss important file dates and figures.
- Prior to, during and after the transition ensure your staff have clear direction, expectation and procedures. If you staff are unsure, the transition will be messy, cause internal issues and potentially cause important file dates and figures to be missed.
- Rename all documents and emails. If you do not rename all documents and emails, your file will be messy, you will waste time looking for documents/emails and again potentially miss important dates and figures.