15 Quick Facts That Show the Real Cost of Paper on Your Business

Doing as much of your business as possible in a paperless way isn’t necessarily about being “green.” Paper is expensive – and not just the cost of the paper itself.

document management 

A number of studies have looked at the cost of working with paper, and the results may be surprising. The numbers don’t lie: working with paper costs you time and money, impacts your productivity, and just plain serves as an anchor dragging your business down.

Take a look:

Industry studies show that it costs companies $20 on average to a file a paper document. (This includes labor and salary costs, storage, office supplies, and other factors.)

Gartner Research found that those in professional fields working with paper spend 50 percent of their time looking for information.

That same study revealed that on average, professionals take 18 minutes to locate each document.

On average, it costs American companies $120 to find a misfiled paper document.

Lost documents become even more expensive, costing $220 on average to reproduce.

On average, companies misfile about 20 percent of their documents. When coupled with the numbers cited above, those errors can get costly.

Paper documents impact productivity. Studies show that upwards of $14,000 of productivity is lost per worker each year as a result of difficulties in finding data needed to complete their job.

Paper costs add up. Citigroup conducted a study and found that if each employee saved just one sheet of paper per week, the company could save $700,000.

The labor associated with paper usage adds up, too. One study showed that a $5 ream of paper ends up costing the average business $155 in labor costs associated with what is done with that paper.

In terms of labor cost, your standard four-drawer filing cabinet will cost about $25,000 in man hours to fill with documents.

That same four-drawer filing cabinet will cost about $2,000 per year to maintain. Again, this factors in storage space, labor, and other factors.

Even today, office workers use a lot of paper. The average office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of paper per year. That’s two full cases of paper per employee.

While this is changing, at the moment some 90 percent of business information exists only on paper. One fire, one accident, one flood, one theft and it’s gone.

A study by Cooper & Lybrand found that 70 percent of businesses existing today would fail within three weeks if they had a catastrophic loss of their paper records.

Cutting waste is easy. Industry studies show that the average business can cut paper usage by 25 percent by increasing the use of email and online services, and doing double-sided copying.

At this point, the facts speak for themselves. The traditional way of conducting business – on paper – is a relic that smart businesses are leaving behind.

What kind of business is yours?