Paperless Office?

Becky Dziedzic on behalf of Mike Moeller

Mike is taking a brief hiatus from Information Sanity. But the conversation doesn’t have to stop – help us keep it going with your comments, and we’ll do our part by sharing insights from others who are passionate about the topic.  

To kick things off, check out Ashlee Vance’s blog at the New York Times from Oct. 7th. The post, and the person that commented on it, brings up a favorite topic of ours – one Mike hasn’t yet covered. The paperless office. We actually like to think of it as a “less-paper office.” Let’s face it, we’re Xerox, we’re not trying to get rid of paper altogether. We know you still like to save your receipts, we know you like a back-up copy of your healthcare forms, your bank statements, your legal documents, we know you still want to print your photos, we know direct mail campaigns can still generate twice the sales return of any other medium…and we still like to print it all. It’s still our core business.  

But more than that, it’s our business to make it easier to get work done. So, when a hospital can save 15 percent in operating costs by converting 75 percent of its patient paperwork to digital, we’re going to help them do that. But we’re also going to help a small business like Watson Realty in Florida affordably print color documents to stand out in the stack of mail sitting on the countertop of potential clients. 

Paperless Office? If you want. Less-Paper? Another step toward Information Sanity.

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  1. greg October 15, 2008 - Reply

    Yes, the paperless office is a myth. But, as we are finding out, the paper-less office is alive and well.

    Where my hardcopy folders are shrinking, my digital folders are expanding. It must have something to do with the law of conservation of energy, which states that energy is neither created nor destroyed. We simply change it from one form of energy into another.

  2. Nathan Zeldes October 19, 2008 - Reply

    No question of it – we should strive for paper-optimized, not paper-less. Trying to get rid of paper entirely is as undesirable as it is futile. The only place it worked out is in Science Fiction – I heard that Gene Roddenberry made an explicit decision to allow no paper on board the starship Enterprise…

    The futility, incidentally, is admitted by Michael Crichton’s character Ian Malcolm in Jusrassic Park when he states “In the information society, nobody thinks. We expected to banish paper, but we actually banished thought”. But of course he says it to highlight a much more serious issue than paper…

  3. Michael Josefowicz December 6, 2008 - Reply

    The thing about paper is that it sits quietly and is always present. The thing about electronic is that it is always invisible until you search for it and bring it into focus.

    It’s just a matter of the right form for the right use at the right time. Digital for storing. Paper for thinking.

    Consider the improvements in reducing infections in hospitals through the use of a check list or the power of a shopping list.

    Paper is information that calls you for attention. The web is information that you have to ask for. Both have their place.

    Me? I’ll go for reading on paper and hunting and gathering and blah on the web.

  4. Michael Josefowicz December 6, 2008 - Reply

    Becky –
    You say “Let’s face it, we’re Xerox, we’re not trying to get rid of paper altogether.”

    In that spirit, here’s my nickel’s worth. The big opportunity for Xerox is at the boundary between paper and digital. I understand that Xerox gets it. But I don’t know if Xerox is focused on moving the functionality it down the pyramid of the organization.

    The MFP is the tool. Couple that with bar codes etc, and you’ve made the connection.

    You may be already doing this, but…imagine in a hospital, a code on the checklist. The nurse finished the ER procedure, scans the wristband. Sometime soon after the event, he puts the paper into a tray. Then once an hour, a clerk runs that paper checklist through the MFP at the ER station, on that floor. The paper is scanned, the information is stored for easy retrieval.

    The ability to retrieve is usually enough, by itself – no further input necessary – to increase compliance significantly. Meanwhile there is also a real time trail that allows managers to intervene when it doesn’t happen.

    Same kind of apps in schools. Attendance sheets. Notes to and from parents. Permission slips for trips. Did you do your homework sheets. Store as PDF’s for later retrieval. Trip a digital switch to signal compliance.

    Once you look at the boundary and look at making that functionality available in the real physical space in which real people work, it should eliminate lots of wasted effort. To me it meets the criteria of a faster, better cheaper way to do something that people are already doing.

  5. George Dimopoulos December 16, 2008 - Reply

    The paperles office is actually not a myth – but real, right here in my office.

  6. Chad March 11, 2009 - Reply

    The paperless office concept has its flaws – the largest being that: not everyone else is doing it. Every time the fax machine rings (if you still have one of those things) or the postal carrier arrives you could image the AOL voice singing out “You’ve Got Paper”.

    I’m not saying that it isn’t possible in the future, but a more appropriate viewpoint would be to determine how far into the future are you willing to look for a solution.

    There are hardware/software solutions out there – but how many people are looking?

    I have to say that as tablet PCs become more prevalent in the workplace, the likelihood of a paperless office seems more likely, but again it all comes down to the user being committed.

    Personally, I’m using the Motion LE1600 and love it – definitely has dropped my paper usage considerably. I am also using a software from GoPaperless Solutions to process and store all of my signed documents.

    I’m all for the idea of a paperless office, but more people have to be willing to commit before it becomes a reality. In the interim, I’m OK with a “less-paper office”.

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