Looking to Reduce Paper in Your Office? Start with Talking to Your Staff

Many business owners want to be nimble and responsive to the market place, but find that paper is slowing down their progress. Doing business “at the speed of paper” will continue to be a drag on worker productivity, collaboration and their ability to provide exceptional customer service. So, what is a business owner to do?

Say It Is a Priority

One of the biggest keys to success is for business owners simply to state that reducing paper is a priority. According to the AIIM Research Report “Paper-Free Progress: Measuring Outcomes,” a major reason businesses are not successful in reducing paper is the lack of management initiatives or mandates to reduce it. Staff need to know this is a priority for the business, including allocating resources to move the business in the paper light direction.

Educate Staff

Business owners may find resistance from staff before even beginning paper reduction initiatives. This resistance is to be expected. The AIIM research report noted 49% of businesses stated their staff prefer paper for handling, reading, or taking notes. The report also noted businesses feel there was a lack of understanding of paper-free options, or there was the perception that physical signatures were needed. The good news is that business owners can reduce staff resistance through educational programs. For example, does your staff sufficiently understand how to use your PDF software to make the best use of it? Or, when was the last time your staff was trained on your document management system?

Ask Staff for Recommendations

Your staff are working daily to perform various business processes. They understand where paper enters the business, where it is created in the business and where it leaves the business. Business owners should ask their staff for improvement recommendations as well as ask why they continue to rely on paper. Staff will tend to have more buy in if they are a part of the process, versus being told they need to change without input. If a business owner does not have the time or expertise to solicit staff answers, a consultant can be effective and provide an outside perspective.

People Can Change

Your staff has already accepted moving from paper to electronic in their personal lives, why not at work as well? Most people no longer fill out checks at the register, and instead use bank cards and electronically sign for purchases. It is just more convenient to use the electronic terminal versus digging out a paper checkbook and pen. Similarly, when introducing new electronic technologies, emphasize the convenience for your staff, and just as many software vendors do, you can reduce support for older paper based processes which will eventually make them less appealing.

Take action today: make reducing paper in your business a priority!

Nitza Medina-Garcia, Certified Records Manager, Records and Information Management Consultant

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