Ever since the dawn of the personal computer, businesses of all sizes and types have been intrigued by the possibility of going paperless. Today, more than 30 years later, most businesses and individuals have managed to shift only a portion of their operations (billing, accounting, etc.) into the digital realm.

As the economy wobbles between tiers of instability, more businesses owners are looking for creative solutions and alternatives to common expenses. Paperless firms do more than save on the cost of paper.

Here are three reasons why your business should switch to paperless operation, starting with the most important and most obvious reason:

1. To save money

It goes without saying that paper costs money: paper for printing and faxing, for billing and correspondence, even for jotting notes and generating inter-office communication. It all comes at a price.

On top of the more obvious costs, businesses that use paper also require envelopes and the postage to mail them, printers and ink and the occasional (or frequent) technician to service their printer/copier/fax machines, pens, pencils, white-out, erasers and pencils, stamps, and highlighters, staplers and staples, paper-clips, and more; the list of paper-based office accessories is long. While none of these items is entirely expendable, creating a paperless office means you’ll probably save loads of money on extraneous supplies.

What’s more, when your office loses paper, it gains space. Storage units that contain overflow documents are expensive, and so are filing cabinets. Eliminating your company’s dependence on all this will free up cash in a variety of ways.

2. To communicate more securely

As common as paper communication is, it’s not particularly safe or secure. Paper documents can be easily lost, and the information they contain may easily be altered or stolen. An over-abundance of paper is incredibly difficult to keep track of, and paperwork containing sensitive information requires expensive precautionary measures for both transportation and storage.

On the other hand, a company that goes paperless can rely on encryption technology, frequent data back-ups, and secure cloud-based storage to keep documents and correspondence safe.

What’s more, with wireless technology at its peak, digital communications provide instant sharing capabilities that can expedite business operations of all kinds.

3. To create a clean, productive work environment

Studies have concluded that a cluttered workspace reduces productivity, weakens decision-making skills, impedes focus, and disrupts critical thinking.

A paperless office is notably less cluttered than one that uses paper. Consider these examples:

— Piles of folders cluttering a desk
— An array of post-it notes vying for attention on a cubicle wall
— A mail tray stacked high with incoming messages demanding attention
— A paper calendar on the desktop with appointments and deadlines written in red
— Overfull recycling baskets
— Printers running out of paper
— An important document, lost on an overcrowded desk

And these counter examples that a paperless office features:

— An organized digital filing system
— Digital to-do lists with reminder alarms that can be set to go off based on date/time/location for important tasks and events
— Prioritized email inboxes that show users which messages to read first based on customizable criteria
— No overflowing recycling bins, cumbersome printers, or lost documents, ever again

These in-office improvements reduce distractions, eliminate time-eating activities like locating printer paper from the storage closet, and improve employee performance and focus.

If you’re interested in going paperless but aren’t sure which steps to take first, a number of great online resources and companies can make your company’s transition smooth, painless, and fast.