Fast Company

Free to Be, Kill a Tree

Remember the much-heralded paperless office? While it's still a worthy goal to do more with less of the ol' paper tiger, even though the "paperless office" has been a vision since the '80s, technological developments continue to take us further and further away.

Has your organization taken steps to reduce paper consumption? What you do? What were the results?

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  • Paughnee

    My company made a big push to go paperless a couple of years ago. The company was in the process of constructing a new building for our location and everyone was informed that they would lose their filing cabinets when we moved our offices (as part of the effort to go paperless). My department (Training) was one of the biggest paper consumers so we were targeted early. Analysts worked with us to evaluate how we used paper and identify alternatives. We had plenty of time to convert/scan/shred. Overall, we have significantly reduced our paper usage, although we'll never be completely paperless (and that's okay).

    The only problem (from my personal perspective) is that there was little consideration given to unique situations. My department is unique in a building full of accounting and customer service reps. For example, I had six lateral filing drawers full of materials that could not be scanned or discarded such as books, periodicals, training tools and games, etc., but I still lost my filing cabinets. So, now I have 4 storage boxes under my desk. The other odd thing was that we were not allowed to keep our library of reference books out in the office area. The bookcase was relegated to a storage closet -- out of sight.

    Making the "paper to digital" transition was a challenge, but the process itself helped me think more about whether or not I actually need something on paper. It also helped support our efforts to incorporate more elearning in our training curriculum. We also investigated using ebooks, Books24x7, PDAs and other technologies.

    Bottom line . . . paperless (or as close as we can get) works for us.