We’re pretty adaptable creatures, us humans. I recently had an ear infection that took away my hearing for a while, but I adapted and after a week I barely noticed I was reading lips and no longer relying on auditory feedback.
The same is true for work processes. Yes, we are creatures of habit. Don’t change our environment!
When we need to change, however, we’re pretty darn good at change. If we have a smaller desk, we adjust. If we are asked to perform twice the work in half the time, we manage for the most part (but don’t expect the same quality, Boss).
This is the logic that’s necessary when creating a paperless office. If workers are given the opportunity to keep working the way they worked before, they will. If they are allowed to keep printing and consuming paper, it will happen. But if there’s a clean break, paper can be eliminated. Workers will adapt.
“The survey canvassed over 2,000 people and essentially put a spike in the idea that the paperless office is just around the corner,” noted TechTarget.
The paperless office is not, however, just around the corner. The paperless office is here today. The technology exists, and companies all across the globe have already moved to a paperless office. What the study showed is that the paperless office doesn’t happen by itself.
Just because the technology exists, that does not mean there will automatically be adoption. We are creatures of habit. We don’t like change.
But we do adapt, which is why creating a paperless office requires the somewhat draconian step of cutting out paper en toto. Get rid of the printers and the fax machines, and watch as workers find a way to stay productive.
This, of course, doesn’t happen if there’s not also an alternative in place.
That means making sure there is a digital document management system in place before the printers are removed or made less accessible, and it means having an alternative way to send and receive faxes since an office’s decision to go paperless doesn’t mean its partners and clients will do the same.
One solution on the paper fax elimination front is the use of fax-over-IP technology. FoIP, as it is called, lets an office send and receive faxes in the same way that VoIP does with calling—it sends the fax data over the Internet. This then can arrive via email or PDF, and be routed to the appropriate party without the need to print and scan paper. A company to look into is FaxSIPit, which offers a number of FoIP solutions for business.
The paperless office doesn’t just happen on its own. But it can happen today if going paperless is the only option for workers.
After all, we adapt pretty well.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson