The workplace as we know it is about to dramatically change. The open-floor office with lots of in-person collaboration, ad hoc meetings by the water cooler, ping-pong tables and shared kitchens are likely to be a thing of the past when companies reopen.
So concludes a wide variety of experts and architects, according to the New York Times article, “The Pandemic May Mean the End of the Open-Floor Office.” In place of in-house coffee bars and standing desks that have enough room for two monstrous computer monitors, the piece says, “may be a new must-have perk: the sneeze guard.” Offices are being configured to hold down the risk of transmitting or getting exposed to viruses.
Tracy Wymer, vice president for the workplace at office furniture maker Knoll puts it this way, “We can’t ask employees to come back to the same office. Companies feel we have to address the root fear.”
It’s not just the physical working environment that has to change in order to address safety and people’s fears. So does a company’s entire workflow. And more than anything else, that means that paper documents will need to disappear.
Offices will need to go paperless for multiple reasons. First, passing around and filing paper forms will no longer be practical. Employees will no longer work physically near one another. Working remotely will become far more common. Remote workers won’t even be able to access paper forms filled out or filed in an office.
Another reason offices will go paperless involves the fear factor. The coronavirus can live on surfaces for varying time periods, and people are becoming frightened of handling paper forms. For example, back in February Chinese banks began disinfecting cash because people were frightened to handle it. A business can’t survive if its employees are frightened of handling the forms it uses, Employees are increasingly reluctant to handle paper around the office, never mind their concerns about touching the shared clipboard and pen is passed around with paper forms.
The final reason pieces of paper will disappear at the office is that they are inefficient and will become increasingly obsolete in a world of remote and socially distanced work. Here’s just one example: a coalition of tech companies sent a letter to Congress urging Congress to fund upgrades to digital infrastructure and to move to digital forms. The letter says, “Outdated government IT systems and processes already hinder some federal and state agencies’ ability to deliver aid to new applicants for small business loans and unemployment insurance. The COVID-19 pandemic also exposes the need to redouble efforts to digitize federal forms and reduce reliance on hand-processing paperwork for high priority response and relief efforts.”
Digitizing paper forms fast and cost-effectively
Digital and mobile forms can save companies a tremendous amount of money and eliminate time spent doing data entry or paper file searches. Digital forms can also help businesses operate more efficiently and identify new revenue streams. One particularly robust and affordable solution, Alpha TransForm (free trial and template forms available), is ideal for the task because it allows both developers and non-developers to digitize forms of ANY COMPLEXITY for under 1 hour of work per page of a form.
Coding is optional, so virtually anyone can turn a paper form into a mobile app with the latest mobile phone features (camera, GPS, time/date stamping, signatures, etc.). The forms can also work with or without a cell or WiFi connection. Power users can use the built-in programming language and on-device database storage to add more advanced capabilities if required, such as database and reference material looks, workflow triggering, pre-loading of forms data, web services integration such as google weather reporting, etc.)
With affordable pricing and flexible licensing models, Alpha TransForm lets companies go paperless and build all the mobile forms they need for their business. Companies have Alpha TransForm to digitize a range of data collection forms, such as order intake forms, inspection forms, quality maintenance forms on shop floors, construction punch lists, safety forms, patient data collection/record-keeping forms, government forms, and more.
Whichever solution companies decide to work with, the time to go paperless and embrace no-code software that produces digital documents is NOW. By moving today to a paperless office, companies and institutions will be ahead of the game with solutions already in place that will allow their organizations to reopen in a safer and responsible way.