Pen, Paper and Technology

By Gregory Pings

She’s a digital native for whom a pen and paper are necessary elements to her work. Meet Maria Jose Lopez, a digital and social media manager in the Xerox International Operations group. Her marketing colleagues across the world know her as Majo.

Maria Jose (Majo) Lopez
“The modern workplace is all about you owning the technology — not technology owning you.” – Maria Jose (Majo) Lopez, digital and social media manager for Xerox International Operations

She mostly works from home, with fortnightly appearances at Xerox’s Mexico City office. High speed internet, two screens (minimum), sound-cancelling headphones, two mobile phones, a wireless keyboard and mouse, and the occasional scanner figure into her day.

But her ideal work environment is much more organic.

“A clean and aesthetic place that’s quiet, so I can focus on my work or take calls,” Lopez said. “Large windows allow me to see the garden. Trees, plants and birds keep the zen gene going. And lots of natural light.”

A true digital native, technology is part of everything she does. It transforms ideas into real programs that make an impact in the market. And then there’s the pen and paper.

“I love using a notebook to keep track of my thoughts and to do lists, and to document certain meetings,” she explained. “It’s an old fashioned element that keeps me grounded, and allows me to shape my ideas and focus in a different way.”

Challenges in the modern workplace

In geographic terms, Lopez’ responsibilities are widespread. Face-to-face interactions are limited, so things must happen differently.

Flexibility, mobility and an open mind to change are essential elements for Lopez’ work life. Consider the varied elements of her job description:

  • Work with countries creating content in to support special promotions and programs where we do business.
  • Monitor and create relevant messages for people around the world who follow the 26 Xerox social media handles she supports.
  • Develop and support marketing programs for Xerox’s lines of business, our partners and our customers.

“It’s quite interesting to develop a program from zero, and anticipate all the interactions and steps,” Lopez observed.

This complete set of links to the articles in Modern Workplace series was created for your reference and convenience.

These articles present multiple points of view about where and how work gets done in the 21st century, as well as some insight into the Xerox notion of “the page,” and its role in everybody’s work life. 

Since she works with people around the world, none of this can happen without technology. But she knows that technology cannot do everything.

“Even a video conference is not the same as being together in the room,” she pointed out. “I take care to be extra explicit, and take time to really explain concepts.”

But technology does allow you to talk to anyone at any time, which brings down barriers that would have made Lopez’ job impossible for a previous generation of workers.

“We might be miles and miles away,” she observed, “but, digitally, it’s just one click and voilà!”

Majo’s ubiquitous notebook allows her to shape ideas and focus in a different way.

She’s describing the essence of Xerox’s Set the Page Free mantra. When you put the right technology in the right situation, you get collaboration, flexibility and impact.

“It’s great to be in this era, because you can work wherever you are, and you are not tied to a place. Your office can be the world, so long as you have the ability to adapt and connect,” Lopez stated.

But it’s not all upside. Technology makes it too easy to focus too much on the “work” part of the work-life balance equation.

“I have to be careful because my job doesn’t feel like a job, she said. “It’s something that I love because it enriches me and challenges me mentally.”

Some days start at six in the morning in order to accommodate conference calls with European colleagues. Other days, when she needs to create something she prefers to work at 7 p.m. in order to concentrate. Lopez points out that technology can also help you organize and use your time zone to your advantage.

“It’s about embedding work into life and always being flexible.

“But I always make time for myself. There are great apps for that,” she added puckishly.

“The modern workplace is all about you owning the technology — not technology owning you.”

Hence, one supposes, her ubiquitous pen and paper.

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  1. Alex February 9, 2018 -

    Today’s world is depending on Technology much more then before. But do you think this is good or it’s a curse for us?

    • Gregory Pings February 9, 2018 -

      Thanks for writing, Alex. You might be interested in one of my articles, Cursedly Blessed Technology. Keith Kmetz, who I interviewed for this article, points out that as much as technology enables flexibility, it can also overwhelm us. He also noted that it takes as much time for technology to catch up with human behaviors and expectations, as it takes for humans to catch up with technology’s capabilities and promises – hence technology’s blessing/curse dichotomy.

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