We Finns are certainly concerned about the success of our paper industry. It’s a mainstay of our national economy and accounts for some 15% of our total exports. Thus we have every reason to encourage you to print out your documents, memos, manuals, presentations and whatever in your offices.
That is, we would have, if the environment didn’t come first.
Environmentally friendly – aren’t we?
You see, despite the fact that all kinds of recycling is high on the agenda in Finland (80% of paper consumed goes to recycling), the efficiency of recycling still leaves a lot to hope for. That is not least because the huge amount of all kinds of trash found among the paper waste.
And there is a lot to recycle, since we rank among the biggest consumers of paper per person in the world. Our scant consolation is that we are not alone: countries like Belgium, Germany, Japan, Sweden and U.S. have firmly held their places with us in the top 10.
Whatever happened to the paperless office?
Why is it that the highly technology-driven economies of the west still populate the top spots when it comes to paper consumption?
Consumption by printed press cannot be a reason, for it has been on a steep decline – so much so that the whole field is deeply in trouble, as we know so well.
Of course, there’s all that packaging and it does make up one third or more of our trash (a figure from 2014).
In fact, the global demand for paper is expected to double before 2030. It simply seems that the electronic revolution we waited for isn’t happening. Not even in the offices: 50% of the waste of businessesis composed of paper.
What do we need paper for in the office?
There are certainly some office tasks for which paper is better suited than the computer’s office tools. When I asked my buddies here at the office, they named a couple offhand: scribbling down notes and sketching quick illustrations. And reading: we understand what we read better on paper than on computer screen. We also read faster and spot errors more easily.
But such tasks are precious few these days.
So probably we have to put it down to the usual suspect: laziness. In other words, sticking to old working habits and systems that were still designed for the age of paper.
…And our tips
Certainly, the reasons we have are good enough, so how to get rid of paper? Here are a few tips out of my quick poll here at our office, targeted primarily for people working in customer-facing jobs.
- Get a centralized CRM system (like Salesforce, which we produce applications for). It allows you to keep your valuable data into a common, centralized database, not in separate documents, where it is hard to find. Relevant information will be quickly available on your screen when you need it, in the right context, so you need to print less.
- Add a document automation application to such a system. Why? Because it helps you streamline collaboration and approval of documents. You get less and shorter revision rounds. You no longer need to print out to proofread, say, each offer you send out to a customer. Instead, it is enough that you quickly check on the computer screen that the required sections are there and the crucial details are right. An eSignature application is a useful complement to document automation.
- Get a good search engine that can scan through all your repositories, one that provides high-quality previews and a page picker, too. It helps you find exactly those pages in your files that you really need and make new files out of them. If you still need to print, at least it will be limited to pages you really need.
Ok, what we want to say is that we are serious about reducing the load we put on the environment. We do actually take care of keeping consumption of paper here at minimum. However, an even bigger concern for us is that Documill Dynamo document automation application and Documill Discovery search engine help you do the same.