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Efficiency Meets Sustainability: How Office Copiers and Cloud Solutions Go Green

August 30th, 2023 | 7 min. read

By Marissa Olson

Going green in the office has much to do with paper and how your business handles information. The office copier plays a significant role in many existing workflows, ensuring that everyone has access to the documents they need when information is shared.

But that's only part of what your copiers can do. Most people need to realize this, but your copier can also play a significant role in your digital transformation and document cloud migration. After all, there's nothing greener than going digital.

Cloud solutions make it possible to transition your business from printed paperwork to virtual documents. This comes with many benefits, and going green is only the beginning.

Your office copier is the secret ingredient to your cloud migration and document virtualization strategy. With the right copier, you can dynamically make physical and virtual copies of every document scanned, allowing you to go green at the right pace for your business.

Let's take a closer look at the journey of your paper documents from the office copier to your cloud document storage.

Going Green: From Paper to Digital Paperwork

The concept of paperwork is essential to office workflows, even if it is no longer paper. The first step to going green in most offices is to switch from paper to digital documentation to the extent your industry and workflow will allow.

Related Article: 5 Ways Printing Is Becoming More Sustainable.

However, you will likely need to digitize many current paper documents to achieve this digital transformation.

When paper documents are scanned into digital storage, this is known as document imaging. It can be done with a simple scanner or with the camera of your phone one page at a time, but why take the slow route?

Advanced copiers can quickly scan whole stacks of paper, storing the contents to create copies. But this process is also the first step to document imaging.

Office Copiers Introduce Document Imaging

Office copiers are advanced scanning and printing machines. They have perfected the process of quickly scanning multiple pages, both sides of the paper and creating a near-infinite number of duplicate print jobs.

To do this, the copier must be able to store images of each page and a temporary file of the entire copied stack to be duplicated. What it does with these stored images is where the green magic happens.

As office technology has evolved, so too have the capabilities of office copiers. Office copiers are no longer limited to copying stacks of printed paper into new piles.

That rapid scanning feature is the first and essential step to digitization and the key to fast-paced digital transformation for the entire office. From there, it's all about the destination.

Digital Workflows: Where Do Your Imaged Documents Go?

Modern copiers can save the images of any paperwork scanned and send you digital copies instead of (or in addition to) making paper copies on the spot. Your copier settings determine where those digitized documents are transmitted and how to integrate those documents into your workflow.

Typically, there are three ideal ways to store and begin managing your new digital documents.

Related Article: What is Managed Print Services?

Send to Email

First, using the scan-to-email feature, you can send an entire stack of digital paperwork to yourself or a colleague. In this way, your copier acts as the ultimate upgrade to the fax machine.

It can send you a PDF (or your file type of choice) composed of every page, front and back, of your documents in a single document file.

Suppose you use email as a records-keeping device like many professionals and businesses. In that case, this provides a quick way to send information to clients or coworkers and store a record of those documents for later.

Saved to a Local File Systems

For most businesses, the first wave of digital transformation is to get your documents stored in a local file system.

With the right software and internal networking, your copier can send a saved digital copy of scanned documents to a designated folder in the company's local file storage.

You can set up a universal intake point where all scanned documents are then processed or provide your team with the tools to send specific documents to specific folders.

Upload to Cloud Solutions

However, local file storage is quickly becoming a thing of the past as millions of businesses undergo cloud migration. Cloud solutions allow stored digital assets to become available anywhere in the world with Internet access and the proper authorization.

To this end, the latest office copiers are designed to integrate with your company's chosen cloud solutions. Sending scanned document files directly to your cloud-based document storage is now possible.

With the correct configuration, you can pre-set where the document is saved to its default permissions in your cloud storage and start the ball rolling on your digitized workflow based on the scanned document.

Going Green with Cloud-Based Document Storage

The transition from paper documents to digitized cloud solutions has been transformational when it comes to going green in the office. Businesses no longer need to make a dozen copies to share documents with a dozen employees.

Each employee can be granted access to the exact digital copy. In fact, with version control and editing features, each team member can make their own edits and suggestions to a shared document that can be easily understood, organized, and adopted in a single, easy workflow.

Many offices still have processes that require some amount of paper documents. But when copiers can quickly scan those documents into the cloud, the need for paper can be minimal.

Cloud-based document management and storage allow you to work with documents, share, edit, and revise them infinitely, pull up old copies, and make new versions, all in the digital realm. Should another printed version become necessary, the final version can be printed without wasting many printings.

Digital Review Meetings

Even in meetings where everyone reviews the same document, laptops and tablets can be used instead of printing a copy for everyone.

The same document can be projected on the presentation screen to immediately integrate highlights and revisions into the shared digital copy.

Enabling Paperless Remote Teams

Cloud-based paperwork and copier digitization also make it possible to loop in your remote or traveling team members.

If they need physical paperwork, the documents can be quickly run through the office copier into an email or uploaded to the shared cloud drive. This way, no document mailing is necessary, and everyone is digitally on the same page.

Never "Forget" a Document at the Office

Many industries require employees to carry documents when visiting clients, work sites, or between office locations.

With a cloud solution for your documents, leaving a record behind is no longer an issue. Employees can access a fresh copy of the necessary paperwork by logging into the cloud platform.

Consistent Accuracy and Availability

Mis-filing is a constant risk when dealing with paper documents in the office and also results in new copies being run when it should be unnecessary.

With a cloud-based document solution, your business can minimize the risk of losing documents due to misfiling or accidental destruction.

Company-Wide Document Management

Lastly, going green with a cloud document migration makes organizing all the company's documents in a single file system possible.

No isolated filing cabinets, no departmental data silos, and comprehensive document policies that both ensure security and eliminate bottlenecks in your workflow.

From Your Copier to the Cloud: Best Practices

Consider a few best practices when using your office copiers to upload paperwork to your business cloud solutions.

Cloud documents are managed based on file organization systems (storage location), access authorization, and settings related to document handling.

To make sure all paperwork that is scanned into the cloud enters your workflow in a secure and helpful way, be sure to pre-configure critical settings.

Document Repository Destination

The first approach is establishing a default location where all scanned documents are entered. This can work for a small business in the early phases of digitization or as a default if a more specific cloud destination needs to be indicated.

A document repository accepts newly digitized documents to be reviewed, manually (or automatically) sorted into the proper storage location, and assigned the right access-security settings.

Upload Settings Based on Employee Roles

Regarding document imaging as part of your workflow, the most practical choice is establishing default upload configurations based on which employee is logged in to use the copier.

For example, employees in the marketing department will automatically upload their scanned documents into the marketing folder in your cloud document manager, and other marketing department staff may automatically have permission to view or edit these files.

However, a finance employee's scans will be stored in a more secure finance section of cloud document storage and may only permit views or edits by the specific employee who did the scanning until settings are manually changed.

Secure-by-Default Cloud Document Settings

Given the above example, securing your scanned documents by default is essential. Do not automatically provide universal access for all scanned documents to all employees on the cloud system.

While admins may control the entire file system, individual staff members should only have access to documents relevant to their specific workflow. This ensures internal and external security and certain document privacy is maintained.

You may also want to block editing privileges to recently uploaded documents until the document owner changes the settings based on the needs of the workflow.

Internal Email Integration

Integrating your office copiers with the company's internal email system is also an excellent way to facilitate a healthy workflow. Often, employees in a paperwork-heavy industry will need to send documents to a colleague straight from the copier.

By integrating the company's internal email system, you can facilitate this efficiency while also blocking any outside email destinations, thus preventing private business documents from being automatically sent to personal email addresses.

The Final Say: Going Green with Cloud-Connected Office Copiers

Office copiers have come a long way from the behemoths on which earlier business operations were hinged. Printing a copy for everyone in a meeting is no longer necessary, or even sending paper contracts to clients and business partners.

However, your office copier is essential to the process of rapid document imaging as your business moves to the cloud.

If you're ready to upgrade your office copier and cloud solutions, AIS can help. We understand sustainable printing, going green in the office, and the vast additional benefits of taking your paperwork into the cloud. Contact us today to consult on your business's right copier and cloud solutions. We’re here to give you peace of mind to help you win more business.

Marissa Olson

A true southerner from Atlanta, Georgia, Marissa has always had a strong passion for writing and storytelling. She moved out west in 2018 where she became an expert on all things business technology-related as the Content Producer at AIS. Coupled with her knowledge of SEO best practices, she's been integral in catapulting AIS to the digital forefront of the industry. In her free time, she enjoys sipping wine and hanging out with her rescue-dog, WIllow. Basically, she loves wine and dogs, but not whiny dogs.