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What is Paperwork?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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Paperwork is a general term for the many different forms, invoices, lists, resumes and work that needs completing in every business. Although computers have eliminated some paperwork such as paper memos for the most part, forms and other papers are still needed in most offices. In many offices the same papers can be handled and processed by many people before they get filed, stored or shredded.

Many office efficiency experts advise that each piece of paper should go to where it needs to go right away to be handled by that department or person. After reading and working with each piece of paper it can be either filed, shredded, thrown out, recycled or hung on a bulletin board. Paperwork that is still needed to complete can be kept in a tiered tray. The trays should be labeled to avoid mixed piles of papers in the trays.

The classic way of labeling the trays, or baskets, in a desk top multi-leveled paperwork holder is with the words in and out. The in basket is for incoming paperwork that needs to be done and the out basket holds outgoing paperwork that is finished. Some office workers still label their desk trays this way while others may forgo labels altogether. Some workers don't use multi-tiered trays for paperwork, but may using hanging files to store papers in a deep desk drawer.

Some workers just seem to keep most of their paperwork in a pile on their desk, but most business organizational experts suggest only having the most current project on the desktop. Other paperwork projects can be stored in trays or files for easy reference. Having to search through disorganized paperwork to find something can cut down on productivity.

Types of paper work common to most businesses include forms, reports, legal records, project briefs, employee evaluations, faxes, letters, shipping reports, orders and invoices. Many companies use computer orders and invoices as well as emails rather than letters. Yet most companies print out copies of these for other departments such as the accounting department. Some offices may be virtually paperless, but many are still working on getting to that point. Most businesses today recycle their paperwork whenever possible and paper recycling boxes are a common sight in today’s offices.

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Discussion Comments
By letshearit — On May 29, 2011

Does anyone still enjoy having traditional paperwork in his or her office environment?

I for one hate that everything is going digital. While I understand that paperless workplaces benefit the environment that is what recycling is for.

I like to be able to have access to physical files and read through them with ease. Computers crash too often, and the chance of losing the virtual documents is too high for my taste.

Also, in the case of signed documents, I don't see how these could go digital. You need those for proof of interaction with your customer. I worry about the day when everyone switches to virtual paperwork and things go awry.

By wander — On May 28, 2011

I am hoping that traditional paperwork will be a thing of the past as digital technology continues to grow. I hate having to shuffle physical documents and organize everything by hand when using a computer is so much easier.

I think that if businesses want to be more efficient they should switch from playing with paper and focus on data management. There is nothing I do now that couldn't be done on a computer or PDA.

What are some aspects of your job that you would like to see move from paperwork to virtual organization?

For me, I know that filing and keeping records of finances would best be left to the computer.

By drarhosamani — On Mar 17, 2010

what is the paper work for chawl system society registration as a cooperating housing society thane-mumbai district?

By anon15803 — On Jul 21, 2008

are employers permitted to charge their employees for their paystubs if they use a direct deposit payroll system?

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