Digitising documents in a remote working world

15th March 2022

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The COVID-19 pandemic forever changed the working landscape, forcing tens of thousands of employees to work from home at very short notice, and impacting businesses of all sizes.

Organisations who already had some form of online document storage undoubtedly found this move easier than those who rely on manual filing – staff who were able to seamlessly access work documents from home could adjust far quicker than those who were locked out of the office without vital paperwork.

But despite the initial difficulties, the pandemic made many businesses realise they could cut office costs by switching to either a fully remote or a hybrid working model. With that switch came the realisation that new technologies were needed to enable this switch. For some, that meant upgrading from free systems like Google Drive or Dropbox Basic, choosing a system that offered extra features and far better able to cope with an entire company’s requirements rather than the odd individual.

For others, it was so much more than this. Some businesses only had onsite storage – inaccessible for off-premise staff – or even worse relied on physical documents. They needed a system that would enable a smooth transition into digitised documents.

According to AIIM, the three most important steps to switching to a digital workplace are:

  • Digitising all records
  • Streamlining & automating business processes
  • Figuring out how best to provide remote access

Those three points stand whether you’re using paper records – which will be the case for the majority of businesses and organisations – or microfilm / microfiche.

By digitising and migrating those documents into an EDMS, you’ll improve your business’s accessibility, ability to collaborate and overall security – all vital components in a smooth-functioning remote work environment.

Enter the EDMS

A good quality EDMS like File Stream 5 will not only help you take care of the three steps outlined by AIIM, but it will also provide many other benefits, including:

Accessibility

The most obvious hurdle to overcome when switching to remote or hybrid working is the issue of document accessibility. It’s no longer possible to head over to the filing cabinets or the record office to get those all important files, or to grab files off your colleague’s desk whenever you need. An EDMS allows your teams to access documents wherever they are in the world.

Streamline processes

Even when businesses were entirely on-premise we would recommend switching to an EDMS because of the huge advantage it brings to company processes and workflows. These advantages are even greater when staff are remote from each other.

Once your documents have been digitised, the information flow will improve, and with it productivity. You can rest easy knowing your staff have all the information they need, when they need it.

More organised

Simple, structured filing also means less wasted time hunting round for documents and reduces or eliminates the risk of working on the wrong file. Surveys have shown that workers can spend a day and a half each week on various challenges related to working with documents.

An EDMS can resolve many of those challenges by creating a uniform filing system. All your staff will know exactly where to look, helping them locate files in seconds rather than minutes. That saved time will soon add up!

But a system like File Stream 5 goes beyond simply filing documents in a neat, ordered manner. It also brings in optical character recognition (OCR) that turns keywords and phrases into searchable items. This means you no longer need to know the exact filename to find a document – knowing a line of information or a sentence will be enough.

Better collaboration

Collaboration is important – and hard – enough when teams are on-premise, but becomes even harder when everyone is remote. A good EDMS can help. Version control and file protection means your staff can easily collaborate with each other without risking losing key information or duplicating tasks.

The system helps foster collaboration to ensure everyone is on the same page – wherever they are.

Security

One of the main concerns about remote working – and in keeping digital versions of your documents – is how secure they will be. The advantage a quality EDMS has over non-specialist cloud storage options is the flexibility to control who has access to what.

Administrators can decide when and who can access each file, which devices are permitted access to the records, encrypt data, and restrict access to certain documents with password protection.

They can even lock down IP addresses, ensuring employees can access documents at their home address but nowhere else.

It will also give you a clear audit trail as to who has accessed and edit any file – perfect for not only tracking down who’s made what changes, but also for double checking that documents have only been seen by the right people.

Safety first

The main problem with physical documents is – when they’re gone, they’re gone! Fires, floods or even simply misplaced documents can all be disastrous for businesses, but digitising them removes this very real risk. Several of our own clients have suffered incidents that would have resulted in a catastrophic loss of documents had they not been using an EDMS.

And while misplacing a document seems less dramatic than a fire or flood, it is far more common – and that brings its own issues. Estimates have shown that 2-5% of an organisation’s files are lost or misfiled on any given day – that’s one in 20. Many of those may be fairly inconsequential, but are you willing to risk that?

Conclusion

Remote and hybrid working is here to stay, so rather than fight it, businesses need to adapt to how their teams will work off-site. Digitising your documents is a great way to start that process, securing your vital information and making life easier and more efficient for your staff in one fell swoop.

Interested in an EDMS? Give us a call on 0118 989 3771 or email sales@filestreamsystems.co.uk

Need more information? Speak to one of our experts.