By Darren Cassidy, Managing Director at Xerox UK & Ireland
With paper documents still scattered around the workplace, employee printing habits, the subsequent cost to business and the digital alternatives available to increase productivity and sustainability in the workplace are examined.
Today we’re in the midst of an information overload. Content comes at us from every angle – online, mobile and across social channels – and sorting through it increasingly takes up time. When piles of paper documents are added to the mix, the ability to remain productive diminishes substantially.
Yes the paperless office – as hyped as it is – remains a fallacy for many. With three trillion pages printed every year, it seems our love affair with paper is a strong as ever. Are we printing unnecessarily? By migrating historically paper-intensive processes online, can businesses reap the benefits and encourage a more productive working day?
Smarter printing equals smarter business
The answer lies in understanding why people print, what they print and the factors that make printing the easy option. Whether through preference, necessity or a combination of both, people in the workplace today still print for many reasons – from simply reading and annotating to signing, sharing or storing documents within an organisation.
It’s important to recognise that each of these behaviours come with a digital alternative:
- Documents can be transferred to reading apps and portable devices.
- On-screen annotation and electronic authorisation is readily becoming the norm.
- Storing documents digitally is growing as the most secure and easily accessible way to file data.
Digital alternatives not only reduce paper use but – perhaps more importantly – helps us work smarter by improving productivity, connecting with clients faster and using data to bolster business.
You may think Xerox an unlikely source to say ‘print less’ but we’re actually embracing and mobilising this shift. We recognise that the way work gets done day-to-day has changed. Digital alternatives are good for business. Recognising that smarter printing leads to smart business, we’re working to bridge the gap between the digital and paper worlds and encourage companies to better understand, protect and use the information they produce.
All of us know that paper has a few affordances that will be difficult to replicate digitally with current or near-future technologies, but I’d like to suggest that most of what we like about paper can be achieved digitally. Weaning people off paper is not easy but one of the most effective methods for changing behaviour is to redesign processes in a way that encourages working digitally.
Enteprises should look to change behaviours gradually; to assess which processes can survive without the use of paper and redefine how documents are used in the workplace. Some potential approaches include:
- Driving productivity using a single interface. Using a standardised technology platform, like Xerox’s Digital Alternatives, can automate existing paper-based workflows to help simplify day-to-day document processes such as signing, annotating, sharing and saving. Everything gets done from one interface (whether on a desktop in the office or on mobile) elminating the need to print documents, convert files or switch between different programmes or versions. In turn, companies can drive time-savings and efficiency gains, boosting overall productivity.
- Adding fun to digital processes. In today’s office it’s all too easy to press print, so, incentivising the alternative is a must. The rise of gamification technology can reap big business rewards when brought into the workplace – take Xerox’s Print Awareness Tool, for example. Employees can track how, by avoiding the print button, their efforts contribute to company-wide print reduction and print smarter goals. By engaging with workers in this light-hearted way, companies can begin to engender a more economical attitude towards print and reduce those print-heavy habits.
- Supporting the transition to the publication of digital documents – collecting and learning from your digital data. With the wealth of content available to us – from internal documents to external marketing collateral – delivering rich, personalised content (accessible across any device) is key in today’s working world. Remaining relevant is down to how companies understand – and learn from – the digital information they produce. By implemting a tool like Xerox’s ePublishing Services which can create cross-platform content, monitor the data behind the document – clicks, visits, etc. – and provide meaningful feedback for developing future content, companies can stay one step ahead. After all, the digital journey is a continuous learning curve.
Overall, organisations that decide to embrace digital alternatives certainly have a lot to gain. While change can be disruptive – even painful – there is a reason people have been waiting in anticipation of the paperless office for so long: the promise of a more efficient, productive, collaborative and sustainable world of work.
The paperless office may remain more of a vision for now. But as digital alternatives gradually replace their paper-intensive counterparts and the amount of printing contunes to fall, the ‘less-paper’ office is certainly a possibility.
Darren Cassidy is managing director for Xerox UK, overseeing the performance of Xerox’s UK arm and directing the strategy for building long-term growth.
Since joining Xerox 23 years ago, Darren has held a variety of senior sales and channel management roles in the UK and across Xerox Europe. He managed Xerox’s UK channel and sales teams for two years in 2006 before becoming VP of Large Accounts across Europe. Prior to his appointment as MD, Darren was VP of Global Managed Print Services Offer and Business Development.
Outside of work, Darren is a keen sports enthusiast. He played National League rugby in the UK and has represented and captained his county at all levels. He has also played semi-professional football and enjoys cricket and golf.