I am sure that you have heard of the term, “Paperless Office”, right? It’s the idea that at some point in time, we will be working in an office environment that no longer includes the need for printers, paper, paper-based notepads, et al.
Now, I have worked in many office environments… and it’s safe to say that not only are we absolutely nowhere near “there yet”, but it appears to be a goal post which is a mirage on the horizon of progress. Why is this? I’m glad you asked.
We are used to things that we do not like to change
I, for one, absolutely cannot stand to grab a pen and write something. It feels “against the grain” for me, to the point that I will do anything to avoid it… with the exception of forms that I have no choice but to fill in. However, not everyone is the same way. It’s the year 2012, and whilst technology has advanced to a level where we realistically could achieve the paperless office, many are just plain used to the idea of having everything on paper. After all, old habits die hard.
There are those that can simply “only work on paper”, and need to print documents to review, or print requirement documents to analyse for example. This really comes down to habits and how we learn to operate.
If we were born in the year 2030, and (let’s dream) paper has been phased out, let’s imagine growing up in this world:
- All correspondence is sent electronically, there is not such a thing as receiving a bill in the mail
- You go to a doctor, you get handed a tablet to fill in your form and a stylus to sign any medical authorities. If you come with your own tablet, you can immediately connect to their WIFI intranet and fill the necessary forms in
- The “postal service” is solely used to transport physical items, rarely letters
- Going to work in an office, you are handed a tablet which is pre-loaded with all of the tools necessary to work without the need to print a single thing
- All of your documentation is hosted on cloud servers, where it is easy to share anything in meetings and everything is transferable/editable in an instant
- Everyone is always connected to the net, there is no such thing as dongles… all devices come standard to link to an instantly accessible network
- Social media is part of life, and everyone is on the major networks (let’s imagine that all major services are combined and simplified). When you meet a business associate, you don’t get a business card… you get their social media network ID.
Would you still need to use paper in the office? Really?
Aside from a phenomenal change to the impact to our environment, imagine the impact on efficiency, cost savings, and productivity?
Where are we now, and what can we achieve?
We cannot jump into a Delorean and travel to a different point in time… can we?
Realistically, the technology is mostly there to support a paperless office, but I am yet to see it achieved. Let’s go through the top things that you can already do to better our environment, your office, your own life, be more efficient, and more professional
- If you don’t already have one, invest in or request for a tablet device. You can carry your work with you, easily share files, edit them anywhere and on-the-go. It is annoying that we are forced to buy many apps to support the functionality needed to truly operate electronically, but it is possible. What can be achieved with this is near endless
- Use a cloud service, like Dropbox, which is FREE… to store, share, and manage your documents
- If you are still resistant to social media, consider opening your mind. Investigate the channels available, what they can do for you professionally and personally, and start getting involved. These are but tools that we can use how we see fit!
- Every time that you receive a letter/bill in the mail, request e-letters if they are available
- If you work in an office, utilise the tools available to you. Most of us in IT already have multiple screens on our provided PCs (ease of reviewing documents, analysis, working, etc. I see this as essential!), plus any devices that we bring in ourselves to better our work
- When you review documents, do it electronically.
- Every single time that you even think of hitting the PRINT buttons, ask yourself… do I really need to print this? Is there a way I could do this electronically and more efficiently?
Do you have more you can add to this list? Do you work in a paperless office? Or one that uses a ridiculous amount of paper? Share your stories/suggestions in the comments
by Peter Koevari – Senior Consultant – Revolution IT