Things to Consider When Looking to Move to a Paperless Workplace

The rise of instant communication technologies that is made possible through use of the internet (email, texting, IM) and new media (YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter) have brought new ways of handling everyday operations in the world of business. With every new generation, there comes an increased aptitude for technology and evolving work approach using new inventive ways to use that technology. The Net Generation is the first group of “digital natives” that seem to be changing the office workplace like no other age bracket in the past.

It is a known fact that people of the “Net Generation” are more familiar with devices such as cell phones, laptops, and hand held gaming devices. People from this generation think that using paper in the work place is a thing of the past. Most of them usually get their messages through emails, IM’s, and/or Tweets, so it’s no wonder why this generation thinks paper as out dated and archaic.  Sending IM’s and emails are much faster, more convenient, and more eco-friendly than using the standard postal system.

Enterprise Content Management systems are getting more and more common in the workplace. Forms, letters, emails, notes, and paperwork need a place to live for quick and easy access. Companies are looking for ways to store their documents electronically rather than using a hard copy filing system in a file cabinet.  I can’t think of a better generation to embrace this technology than the Net Generation.

With all of this said, the Net Generation has an advantage over the rest of us because they entered this world with the digital age already in place and we should take advantage of that fact and allow these great minds to thrive and expand their knowledge in the workforce. They will be a great asset in the long run, and will be able to get the older generations up to speed with the new technology.

Here are some good ideas on how to get your company up to speed and maximize your company’s productivity.

  1. Start moving away from paper based systems, and more towards email, digital forms, and electronic documents.
  2. Build a good scanning system that can import your documents into a storage system such as a database.
  3. When scanning the images find software that can do optical character recognition (OCR) to create easily searchable text.
  4. Build a good storage system that has software that you can add annotations, signatures, highlights, blackouts and whiteouts to scanned documents.
  5. Try to find software that allows you to build a workflow process of how you do work at your place of business.
  6. And the most important, hire technology oriented people such as people from the Net Generation and let them be technology mentors in the workplace. This is a great opportunity where the students can become the teachers and  let them experiment in ways to drive paper out of the workflows of business – and lead and teach the rest of the organization.

John Hart

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Jeff Shuey - December 16, 2009

good post. You are right that the digital natives can and should be leveraged as mentors. That mentorship can go both ways as the Net Generation comes up to speed they can and should learn from history — lest they are destined to repeat it.

The next generation of workers will not use the big bucket term of ECM that we use today. They will just call it what it is … information. Next generation technologies will do a much better job of defining and classifying personal and professional information. The combination of savvy net generation workers (not necessarily employees) with intelligent next generation technologies will create the Information Society.

John Hart - December 28, 2009

Thanks for the Comment.. You are absolutely right about the older generation and the Net Generation can go both ways with mentorship and in my opinion it should. We can always learn things from our past from the older generation to prevent us from making the same mistake more than once