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The Covid-19 impact on our working culture
For years organisations in the public and private sector have struggled to remove paper from the office environment, instead settling for less paper rather than committing to paperless initiatives.
With millions of us working from home full time for the first time, suddenly many have managed paperless working in a matter of weeks.
So, can this be maintained? Many of the quick fixes are less than perfect and as some people slowly return to offices the temptation will be to return to the old ways.
By far the best way to stop paper is through channel shift, migrating customers and staff to on-line transactions, with built in workflow that can automate the process from end to end. This, however, takes a cohesive strategy, a digital platform to build your on-line processes and a good deal of work to ensure that the processes you are digitising are the right ones for the customer and the organisation.
All this takes time, so in this article I look instead at 3 very practical steps that organisations are doing now so that they don’t just return to a paper fuelled offices.
1. Reducing Incoming Post
Despite a ‘digital by default’ mantra of pushing transactions on-line for nearly 10 years now, many post rooms still receive their daily influx of correspondence that has to be handled, opened, sorted and distributed. With most office workers at home, those that haven’t already adopted a digital mailroom approach, where mail is scanned, indexed and immediately available for processing, have either left large volumes to build up, put in rudimentary scanning processes or outsourced to a third party to handle for them.
A few quick win suggestions:
2. Outgoing correspondence
When you can’t communicate electronically, and documentation still has to be posted then Hybrid Mail solutions offer a quick and often cheaper alternative. Staff can press print from home select a print queue set up for Hybrid Mail and your document gets sent to a third party to print, envelope and dispatch.
Some organisations are addressing this by:
3. What about your internal paper shuffling?
Not so long ago I worked with an organisation that was printing an incredible 40 million pages per year through their office printers for nothing but internal use, reports, internal forms, photocopying etc. Until a review was done of usage, printing wasn’t monitored, and all printing costs were centralised so there were no implications on individual department budgets. With the leasing costs of the printers, software, paper and toner etc the annual cost to the organisation was over £800,000!
Rather than just tell people to stop printing (this had already been tried) or financially penalise them through budgets (this means nothing to most staff), we instead harnessed the climate emergency as the driver for change. Conservation groups estimate that an average tree makes 8,300 sheets A4 paper therefore a communication campaign was started to save the 5000 plus trees that were being chopped down each year to feed the paper culture. By tapping into peoples’ core values of protecting the environment, an immediate decrease in printing was achieved, budgets were reduced and targets were set and tracked for the number of trees saved.
Using this example, ask yourself:
The largest cultural shift event in recent history is happening before our eyes, removing paper may seem trivial at this time of national emergency but it is a good example of opportunities that organisations now have, that previously seemed too difficult. Make sure it is part of your post Covid-19 planning.