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Forget file-sharing services like Dropbox, Box, Nitro, Syncplicity and OneDrive for Business. Ditto for high resolution monitors, tablets and digital signatures. 

More than a third of us are working with documents and collaborating the old fashioned way, via email, printing and editing, hand signing and scanning -- you get the idea. So says a survey conducted by Nitro and the PDF Association. It looked at the way 1200 knowledge workers in 56 countries across 13 industries and 10 professions used documents on the job. And it’s not just small companies that we’re talking about, but those with as many as 10,000 employees as well. 

And though many of us may be tempted to say, “I don’t work this way,” when was the last time you collaborated on a document via email? The survey found that, on average, we send out six documents via email every day.

While 92 percent of us admit to sharing and editing documents this way, that’s not the problem. It’s that 81 percent of those surveyed who said that they’ve spent time working with the wrong version of a file, sharing an outdated draft, or simply “losing” things in their inbox

The latter is a real time-waster. Workers spend five hours per week looking for documents and 3.5 hours filing and organizing them.

And when it comes to collaboration, the average knowledge worker admits to spending 6.9 hours per week gathering, deciphering and consolidating feedback. 

Not only do these kinds of habits hinder worker productivity which is bad for companies, but they’re also frustrating and boring. Workers’ time would be better spent on value-producing activities (good for your resume and your company’s health and bottom line) or simply getting out of the office on time.

There is a better way. Most of us know that. The challenge is to change the way we work.

Just Say No

Though (according to Nitro) only nine percent of companies have adopted a corporate file-sharing solution thus far, it’s prime time to do so. And yes, Nitro has a vested interest in saying so -- it offers a service it claims "changes the way the world works with documents."  

But consumers are leveraging services like Dropbox to store all kinds of things ranging from directions to soccer fields and ball parks to grocery lists and contracts. File sharing services document actions and interactions and can be tracked so that you can know the status of your files. Not only that, but cloud-based file services protect your documents from getting into the wrong hands (or so they promise).

Quit the Print, Pass Around, Sign, Scan Cycle

Fifty-eight percent of workers print and hand-sign documents that have been emailed to them. And when multiple signatures are needed, passing them can take days and wastes time.  Eighty percent more time. An IDC study says that workers lose 3.5 hours per week because they don’t use digital services. 

And while digital signatures aren’t new or bleeding-edge, there’s only a 42 percent adoption rate despite the economic evidence that should mandate their use. E-signatures can reduce turnaround times by 80 percent and increase customer loyalty.

If you don’t have digital signing capabilities, get them.  If you do, use them. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.

Break Old Habits, Join the Digital Age

We’re well beyond the digital revolution and in the digital age. We all know that. And for the most part, we have the tools we need to work smarter and more efficiently. There are business and individual advantages to making the change. Make it.

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Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by  Velo abzug