Attempting a paperless office

Our very own Andrew Semple tries to make his office paperless, 40 years after the paperless office was first predicted.

Attempting a paperless office

Finally achieving that paperless office…?

What better way to end the year than to give your office a tidy? Almost 40 years after the paperless office was first predicted, I want to see how close I can get.

It makes me smile to think that the idea of the paperless office – a vision of the future – was popularised by a business week article in 1975. Almost 40 years later and we’re still talking about it, but with technologies like tablets, interactive projectors and smart phones, not to mention document capture products and management software, I think we’re getting closer. Certainly we’re using print in a different way.

At Epson Europe, like most of your companies I expect, we have a policy of storing important business documents on our central servers (gone are the days of vast banks of filing cabinets) and to all intents and purposes our offices are paperless – from a 1975 perspective, anyway.  That said, paper does still remain important, but in a more short-term fashion; by that I mean we tend to print documents to read and review, rather than file and keep, and we have policies in place to encourage paper recycling, including central paper collection and disposal points in each office rather than individual waste paper baskets.

I know the truly paperless personalities on my team, and I know that I’m not one of them.  While Jason, for example, has a desk that looks like a sleek new Apple commercial, my own is accessorised with several piles of documents to make sure it doesn’t clash with my bookshelf or cupboards.

My, not-so-tidy, office

Jason’s very tidy desk

This discrepancy in behaviour seems to affect companies as well as individuals. I have found a 2013 report from the Global Community of Information Professionals that shows that while the amount of paper flowing through business processes is decreasing in 41% of organisations, it’s actually increasing in 19%.

While I’m not sure if I actually use more paper than Jason, or if it’s just a question of being a hoarder, I nevertheless recognise something needs to be done and thought my challenge might be instructive for some of you too.  Here’s how I got on:

Making a start by scanning in the important documents

Epson’s document capture software helps to arrange your scanned documents

Looking very happy sat at my tidy desk!