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How Paper is on the Way Out of the Office Door

How Paper is on the Way Out of the Office Door post image

The workplace is forever changing, and proactive businesses are changing their workplaces around the new generations that are entering their workforces. If we look back, Generation X (born in the 70s) was probably the last generation to see paper as an essential part of working life, having grown up when computers were a novelty. Generation Y (born in the 80s), however, grew up in the internet age and expect a similar, modern approach to work. Paper doesn’t fit in.

To younger employees, providing paper payslips is almost anachronistic, old-fashioned, and a signal that your business is ‘behind the times’. Indeed, if you’re submitting holiday forms on coloured pieces of paper, then imagine how it reflects on your business from an employee viewpoint.

It’s all about employer brand today, especially with Generation Z entering the workforce. They are perhaps the first generation to view their employer as a brand, although Generation Y did show signals with its focus on Corporate Social Responsibility. Generation Z, however, wants an employer with whom they can engage.

Therefore, it pays to look at how your new employees communicate with each other, and start to integrate these methods into your working practices. Employee Self Service systems have moved payslips online and have removed much of the paper administration of old, but some organisations have moved beyond to include a form of social networking within the business.

Employee Self Service solutions have to be sleek, quick to load, and easy to use, and there are new solutions on the market that almost mimic social networking sites themselves. They have to be branded – and they have to be available 24/7, ensuring that employees can use them at home as well. In fact, if they’re accessible by mobile phone as well, you’ve taken another step towards being recognised as a forward-thinking employer.

Very few organisations can claim to be masters at internal communication, but those with cross-generational teams need to balance earlier generations’ scepticism for such tools with younger generations’ enthusiasm. Above all, businesses large and small need to ensure that communication is clear, consistent, and engages their employees. Once more, paper is out, but perhaps e-mail is out, too. Younger employees, according to recent research, are giving up e-mail en masse, in favour of instant communication methods.

Another item seemingly on the way out is the laptop. As businesses increasingly look to switch to more mobile devices such as the tablet, not only does the laptop look old-fashioned, but the need for print-outs is reduced as the tablet gets handed around meeting rooms. Instant sharing also means that documents can be sent between tablets in meeting rooms, once more eliminating the need for paper print-outs.

And the upshot of this? Employees look upon you favourably as an employer, because you’re using the latest technology. You will have reduced hiring costs simply because you don’t have to hire as often – your best people will stay with you, and you don’t have to re-train new people. All of these costs can add up, especially for smaller businesses – and we haven’t even mentioned the cost of the paper you’re saving!

About the author of this guest blog post. Gareth Cartman is currently working with Ceridian Ireland, a leading supplier of HR and Payroll services.

About the author: Paper Free Invoices started out as a small blog for my invoicing software business Paper Free Billing but has morphed into something much more useful. I’ve really enjoyed reading the guest articles and speaking with guest publishers so much so I’m always looking for talented bloggers to contribute. If you have any questions or feedback on this article, please find your voice in the comment section, we will try to answer every genuine comment!

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  • Patrick Besong

    You don’t know how bad I want to go paperless! I work from my home office most of the time and a paperless office would be a dream!

    • It is an ideal target to aim for, I don’t think you’ll be able to get there over night but if you set yourself achievable goals and target just one piece of the puzzle at a time then you should be able to make good headway.

  • Phyllis Moore

    I agree paper is getting more and more anachronistic. I am glad to see this, too. It saves space, printing costs, and, of course, it is great to have an opportunity to do something that is also respectful of our dwindling environmental resources.

    I am not so sure that laptops are on the way out just yet. I think people will still have need of the computing power for a while, regardless of whether they print something or not. Or at the very least they will still have use for netbooks. I have been in settings where people have relied on netbooks more so than tablets, probably for the computing power and the need, still, to use keyboard-based software and programs.