Is It Possible to Go Completely Paperless?
Paperless - Can It Be Done?
Going "green" is a hot topic at many offices today. Even if they are not doing it yet at your office, surely you know someone that works at a "green office" by now. So what does that mean? Aside from energy-saving technology, making sure everyone turns off lights, and having to share real silverware (ewww... give me my plastic forks back!), it also means offices are trying to go paperless. But is it really possible to go paperless?
I don't want to sound overly negative, although I am sure I will come off that way, but I don't think we can ever go completely paperless. Maybe if we were living like the Jetsons, this would be possible. However, in today's day and age, it is not possible right now. I think the paperless term is probably inaccurate. Maybe the terminology would be better if it was something like: lower paper usage. Yes, we can certainly use less paper. I just don't know how we can function without using paper sometimes. Let me give you some reasons why I think we can't go 100% paperless.
Do you love paper?
I Love Paper
Let's face it, some of us love paper. We can't help it. We like to read real books, we like to still get the newspaper, and we like to work with paper. Not everyone of course, but there are still some paper lovers out there. Can I save a bunch of stuff on spreadsheets and in Word documents? Yeah, sure. Can I read my work as well on a computer screen? Nope.
Sometimes I am something for work and I want to take notes on the side. Yes, there is software for this task, but it is lacking. Nothing beats taking out a red pen and marking away on a real sheet of paper! Other times, I need to compare a document to something on the screen. I have to print out one to compare it to the document on the screen. Even with dual monitors, this can still be a challenge at times. Going paperless does not always work. proofreading
The more you use the computer to work with all the time, the more electricity you use. Sometimes I would like print out paper, and sit outside in the sun and read it. I am using far less electricity this way. So see... I am sort of going green!
The Recycle Bins of Shame
Now that people are supposed to be going paperless, those that are still printing out materials to work with during the day are often filled with shame by closing time. Have you ever wondered why people quickly take their hoping to go unnoticed? It is the shame and guilt they feel for not going totally "green" in this new paperless system. recycling bin
The mere fact that recycle bins exist suggests the office is not going totally paperless. In a paperless world, you would only need a recycle bin for cans and bottles... but not paper. After all, if you are recycling paper, you must be using paper, and that is a no-no! Furthermore, I still notice a hefty supply of boxes of paper coming in each day at work. Well, that can't be... because we are paperless! Why do we have paper if we are not using paper?
The Customers Demand Paper
Another problem with the concept of going paperless is you have to get all the customers on board with it, too. If your customers still demand a paper invoice and they want to fax it back to you, you'd better comply. It is a tough market now and I can speak from experience when I say there is a major lack of enthusiasm from customers when I explain, "Oh, we are paperless now."
Guess what? The company down the street is not paperless yet. Who cares about trees? That company cares about customers. You are going to lose a few if you insist your customers have to go green with you. It is great to give your customers options. Some are going to jump right on board with you. Others are going to be hesitant and you need to have a plan B set in action for that group of people.
The Mail Keeps Rolling In
No matter how much you might despise paper, plenty of companies insist on using it. I get so many unwanted paper credit card offers, "free" magazines, and catalogs, all the trees outside must be weeping when I get my mail. Not to mention the steady stream of junk mail that comes into an office every day. Have you ever tried to shake these people off? It is practically impossible. I dare you to attempt to "return to sender" your junk mail. It just does not happen.
Even the people you must deal with because they are associated with your company or you owe them money often insist on sending paper invoices. If your office is going paperless, this now means you've got to take the paperwork to the scanner and scan all those invoices in to a shared drive. Gee, thanks. That is easier than just filing it away. You've basically got to get every company you work with (and the companies that beg to work with you) to go paperless as well.
Not Everyone Owns a Tablet
When I sit in meetings now, it amazes me how many tablets sit on the boardroom table. Everybody is taking notes on tablets (while maybe playing Solitaire)... that is, everyone except the lower paid employees. They are taking notes in notebooks. Uh-oh, paper!
I have a gentle suggestion for all you managers out there that want employees to go paperless, even at meetings. Buy them tablets, laptops, or iPads! I've worked at jobs that expect everyone to use tablets, yet they do not provide them to all employees. Even more ridiculous, they usually provide tablets to the employees making the most money, not the employees that can't afford them.
My suggestion would be if you want employees to go totally paperless, you need to help them do so. Even if you give tablets as a Christmas gifts or simply loan out tablets and laptops at meetings, that is better than nothing. No one should be forced to buy a product that is out of their price range. If you see some employees clipping coupons, talking about taking the bus because they can't afford a car, or find out they've moved back in with their parents, buying a tablet is probably not their highest priority.
Although I am certain we can all use less paper and we should all do more for the environment, it is ridiculous to think we can get rid of paper entirely right now. Too many people still use it, and many people don't have the resources to stop using it. I think it is reasonable to limit paper use.
Also, let us remind ourselves the real reason most companies want to go "paperless" - to save money! I worked for a company once that could not afford to run the electricity during certain hours anymore. The public was told the company had a new "going green" initiative. In truth, the company was going bankrupt.
Limiting paper use will help the environment, but so will running computers less and switching to more energy efficient appliances and light bulbs. Never forget there are other ways to go green and save money.
Copyright ©2014 Jeannieinabottle
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