Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Paperless or less paper?

So many people talk about paperless offices paperless environments and so on.... few ever achieve it. Sorting out my office recently really made me reflect on this. Like every business, I have to keep records for several years - but they take so much space and are really heavy!

We have the technology, it is a culture change we need. All my records and notes are stored electronically - as are school records, but I still have to have paper. Schools spend massive amounts of money on paper and printed resources. A school I visited recently in the United States recorded the fact that their paper usage was the equivalent of every person on the campus using 10,000 sheets of paper a year EACH. That really is not good!
The fact that a few schools in the UK and US are trying to operate in an almost paperless environment is really interesting and well worth following.
If the technology is robust - why can't we trust it? If it isn't robust enough yet - it must be soon!


Ray Fleming said...

You've got a very good point Gareth - and in the UK a typical secondary school is using anywhere between 1 million and 2 million sheets of photocopy/printer paper a year.

I did a bit of work on this in preparation for a "Top ICT Money Saving Tips" BETT presentation, and the potential savings are big - perhaps £50-£60,000 a year for a secondary school.

The fundamental issue is not that the technology won't allow us to go paperless, but that the habits of people aren't being changed. To make the change, something in the environment has to be changed to mean that people's default behaviours become different.

I've written up some of it (with examples) on my blog

Over the last 3 years I've gone from being a hoarder of paper to having a small notebook and a couple of (rotating) magazines. And the reason? A big environmental change from having a fixed desk to a hot desk. Now, paper is massive inconvenience - I want all my information to be electronic, so that it is always available to me, wherever I sit and work, and easily searchable.

It was the environment change which forced the behaviour change - but now, I know I'd never turn back to having lots of paper based resources.


Gareth Long said...

Thanks for the post Ray... an interesting point that reinforces my view. Thanks.

NB: please check the web link you identify - it doesn't seem to exist any more.