Saving The World: In Pursuit of a Paperless Office

Did you ever see Dr Spock rummaging around in the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet to find that report for Big Jim Kirk? No, of course not. This is because the bridge of the Starship Enterprise was an office of the future, i.e. paperless. And that’s exactly where, back in the year 2012, we all want to be heading. A paperless office means a green office and, as a result, a more healthily Earth to reside on. The benefits would be remarkable.

But how far away are we from this being reality, and not some fictional universe where Captain Kirk and big eared Spock go on the hunt for aliens to have disputes with?

Why a paper free office would be brilliant

On paper (ho ho) a paperless office is a great idea for modern business; massive savings can be made on storage space and the raw materials needed; documents can be accessed and distributed instantly around the world; centralised changes can be made to documents so everyone is kept up to date.

That’ll make your business sleeker than an otter wearing lycra.

Plus, never again will an office worker have to suffer the laughing and pointing of their colleagues after being sprayed with toner ink while changing the empty cartridge.

But it’s not party time just yet

But, like a wasp hidden in the Coke can, there’s something lurking to ruin the picnic.

The problem stems from the fact that offices have been dependent on paper ever since someone in 2nd century BC China attempted to mash together a few bits and bobs gathering dust in corner of their room to create the world’s first post it note.

From then on offices have feasted on paper like it was going to be taken off them. This then became turbo charged in the mid-1970s when developments in document-creating machines gathered pace. Suddenly with fax machines, photocopiers and printers, we could churn out prints and copies with gay abandon.

It has been claimed that office paper consumption doubled from 1980 to 2000.

What this little history lesson amounts to is the fact that even though today, in the age of the internet, email, centralised servers, secure internet storage, digital signatures and their like, many offices are either too mired and stagnated in the culture of paper, or simply cannot face tackling the paper-hewn monster they’ve already created.

It is for this reason that today, despite the technology existing; the paper-free office is not going to be with us for a while longer. But, like the emergence of credible French pop music, there is a shifting in the winds.


The revolution is coming, slowly…

Since plateauing in 2000, office paper consumption has begun to fall. This is due not only to the fact that paperless technology has improved, but also as the old companies who feared technology like it was witchcraft have died and been replaced by fresh-faced savvy companies who embrace the technology from the start. So, now not even The Beatles, or listening to their records, will bring about a mass change in the office world. And what would John Lennon make of that? Not a lot, we should think. So what can your office do?



How do you join the paperless revolution?

Educate companies you work with

No matter how hard you try and keep your office paperless, other companies will insist on mailing the dratted stuff to you. A small step would be to ask these companies to simply email instead of send.

Buy a scanner

Any paper files you currently have, from full documents to receipts to post it notes can scanned and digitally stored. In the case of smaller offices, going through your papers a few a time will clear the backlog before you know it. For larger companies this is ideal work for a temp and creates savings in the long run.

Use online forms, data collection and payments systems

From bespoke to off-the-shelf, a multitude of online data capture services exist. There is no excuse for faxed order forms in this day and age, just as there is no excuse for Jim Davidson’s jokes.

Store documents in the cloud

Using the cloud (uber-nerd speak for online storage (itself basic-nerd speak)) you can store and tag all your documents securely with an online storage company and then simply sign in to access them from any computer anywhere in the world.

Ensure you use strong passwords

Just as you would secure important documents behind an effective lock and key, you should do the same with your online documents. In fact, online is even safer than a tradition locked filing cabinet, and can leave a digital trail to find out who accessed documents. Just make your passwords as strong as possible. Perhaps getting a family pet’s paw to mash the keyboard would create a suitably obscure one.

And finally, if all else fails…

Build a paper effigy and use it to terrify employees into action!

Much like the bogey man with children, mortify impressionable employees by claiming the effigy comes alive if they waste paper. Add such details as how it will imprison them in a filing cabinet for all eternity if they do not change their ways!

About the author:

James Adams is a professional writer and marketer who is currently employed at Cartridge Save. He is involved with a large number of speciliased tasks within the inner workings of the company and has amassed a great deal of knowledge regarding business, printers and online media. His passions involve writing, psychology and online driven media.

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