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The PaperLess Office: Cost-cutting reality or paper-dreams?

Looking to go PaperLess? Technical Director and digital fan, Richard Vine looks at what’s holding people back:

People have been talking about the paperless office for decades. It reduces waste, saves money and boosts security. As we enter a new decade, with environmental concerns, an eye (always) on the bottom line and cloud-based technology more accessible than ever before, we ask is this the decade that going paper-free becomes a reality, or are we stuck to paper like glue?

Being PaperLess

It’s fair to say I’m technology evangelist. I’ve been ‘paper-free’ since 2007, relying on technology to create, save, share and deliver whatever information others use paper for. But before my bias clouds your judgement of this blog, I should also say that as Technical Director of TecInteractive, I work with businesses across the country who aren’t paper-free.  From Government bodies to SME’s to international corporations. And whilst there are often instances where I question their use of paper, I also understand why in many instances it’s just not possible to have a paperless office. Yet.

The Reality of a PaperLess Office

The reality is that the technology is there. But it’s not always as simple and easy-to-use as picking up a paper and pen. People will naturally gravitate to the simplest solution. And paper is such an ingrained commodity in our lives. The change process from paper to digital on a company wide-scale is often too daunting to undertake. Even our youngest employees didn’t grow up with a tablet in their hands – paper is still the primary medium that we are used to dealing with – and often the easiest.

But that doesn’t mean that people don’t LIKE the idea of going paper-free.

Statistics on Paper Use in Offices

Did you know that:

  • the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year – and this is growing
  • 45% of printed sheets are in the bin by the end of the day
  • Much of this does NOT get recycled and ends up in landfill
  • 40% of a worker’s time can be spent looking for paper files
  • 20% of print jobs are never retrieved from the printer, posing a security risk for sensitive data
  • 10% of IT staff time is spent managing printers
  • 80% of businesses WANT to reduce paper
  • Commitment to environmental management can help to win new business (90% of organisations seek ISO 14001 in order to win new business)
  • Adherence to ISO 14001 can help organisations to mitigate and adapt to climate change
A Balance of PaperLess and Digital in the Workplace

So it’s all about finding a compromise: Finding the paper-free solutions that will save you time, help you work more efficiently WHILST saving money and reducing the impact on the environment. But for that to happen, the solutions MUST be easy to use. We can’t deck out our offices with hi-tec gadgets that are unreliable, or that people don’t understand or can’t use.

Intuitive Solutions

A good example of this is interactive digital displays. They’re so easy to use that children as young as 3 can use them.  These touch-screen, giant tablets provide you with a digital flipchart to write notes in a brainstorm meeting. You can access files and programs like you would from your desktop. And then save them. And then access them again when you’re back at your desk. There’s no typing up notes or taking dozens of photocopies of your brainstorm notes to share amongst colleagues. And notes can be saved and shared securely without the risk of sensitive data being seen by others or being left on the photocopier. Here, the paper-free solution doesn’t just replace a paper process. It makes it better and more efficient.

Using a digital interactive display, people could also dial into the same brainstorm meeting and view the ‘digital flipchart’ from their device remotely, making their own notes on the digital screen. It’s a great example of how going paper-less can boost collaboration and save time (rather than missing a meeting or travelling back for a meeting when you’re not in the office). But with dozens of interactive displays on the market, it’s choosing the ones that are most user friendly and easy to use that will really encourage people to abandon their flipcharts and go digital.

Simple, Paper-free Solutions

There are hundreds of examples that we could look at. But the message is always the same. Choosing simple, paper-free solutions should make your lives easier. Not necessarily create a war of change that no-one is ready for. With this outlook, perhaps your goal for 2020 is to be a less-paper office rather than paperless office? Whatever your ambitions for reducing paper in your business, it’s the technology solutions that will make them a reality. So, whilst I’m optimistic that the paper-free office is a future reality, for anyone who isn’t quite ready, we’re here to help you find the solutions that will set you on the right path.

Contact us to arrange a chat with one of our solution consultants today:

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Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
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