The terms "paperless," "electronic," and "digital" are often used interchangeably to describe work which previously was done with paper, but which now has been adapted to information
& communication technology (ICT) devices and software.
The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) has defined information technology (IT) in the electronic era as "the study, design, development, implementation, support or management of computer-based information systems, particularly software applications and computer hardware." IT entails processes involving the use of computers and software to create, convert, store, process, transmit, and retrieve information securely. The term has recently been broadened to ICT (Information and Communications Technology), so as to include the idea of electronic communication.
To be paperless means essentially that the traditional paper-based practices-such as writing, note taking, reading, editing, communicating, and even drawing-are instead performed electronically with ICT devices and software. Much has been said and written about the paperless office in recent years, and the rapid development of ICT is enabling an increasing number of paperless practices. The relationship between paperless work styles and ICT is intimate and interdependent; a paperless work and lifestyle cannot be implemented without ICT, and the use of ICT should naturally lead to becoming paperless. Paradoxically, however, the consumption of paper has increased exponentially since the advent of personal computers and printers. The main reason for this lies in the fact that we have become conditioned to use paper since our childhood, and we may not have fully grasped the many opportunities and advantages that paperless work practices can bring.
Several global trends drive us towards paperless work styles and lifestyles:
1. The ready availability of electronic information and communication technologies (ICT)
have made it possible to transit from a paper-based to a
paperless way of working and living.
2. A shift towards a knowledge-based economy centered around the generation, trade, and exchange of knowledge and information services and products.
3. The ever-growing urban centers, congested highways, and increasing housing and office space costs.
Telecommuting is greatly facilitated by going paperless.
4. Long and lengthy commutes, and increasing energy and fuel prices.
5. The negative environmental impact of commuting via automobile and maintaining office facilities.
6. The growing mobile global workforce. The worldwide number of mobile workers is predicted to reach one billion by 2011.
7. A need to improve the quality of life for millions of people worldwide.
"Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage change that is inevitable."
Competitiveness and wealth generation is becoming increasingly
dependent on the use of Information & Communication Technologies, and the capacity to add value using
paperless technologies both at a personal and corporate level. In today's business environment, an electronic, paperless style of management and operations can have a huge impact on process efficiency in terms of speed and dynamics, and hence on competitiveness and profits. In the future, economic survival will require the use of
information & communication technology
at a variety of levels, for individuals and organizations.
advantages of going paperless are many and obvious, both for
individuals and organizations. The main reason why most people
still use paper is because of a life-long conditioning; paper
has become an intimate part of how we generate, access and store
information. By recognizing the paperless advantages it will be
easier to implement it." George Dimopoulos
ADVANTAGES FOR INDIVIDUALS
The advantages of replacing paper-based practices with digital ones are numerous, and will be increasing as the electronic substitutes of paper become more advanced and more refined. Here are a few of the most important benefits:
- Reduce, or eliminate the clutter and gain focus.
By going paperless you'll be able to get rid of those distracting paper
piles and instead store all your documents safely on a hard
drive. Paperless document and time management software will greatly facilitate the organization of documents and work-tasks.
- Enjoy time flexibility & freedom: When deliberated from the tangible constraints of the traditional office, most of us can use paperless
technologies to transform a 8-to-5 work- and lifestyle into something more flexible, and most of us can do so while remaining just as, or more, productive.
People who suppress or ignore their daily biological rhythms and perform tasks at non-optimal hours often experience diminished productivity, sleep and digestive disturbances and other medical conditions.
- Enjoy location flexibility & freedom: With the proper use of
paperless technologies, we can work while “stationed” at our favorite locations, perhaps with family and friends, without the need to commute.
- Become environment friendly and live greener: The use of paperless
technologies benefits the environment by reducing the need for paper, by curbing commuting and by decreasing the need to maintain office spaces. Those three reductions alone can greatly shrink fuel consumption and emissions.
A decreased use of paper will furthermore save trees and reduce the waste products created by paper production and the disposal of used paper.
- Enhance efficiency and productivity: The time and location freedom can counteract fatigue, boredom and routine, and thereby enhance overall stamina, which is a key ingredient for productive and creative performance. Paperlessness enables customization and adaptation of work task performance schedules to the most optimal workstyle for each individual. Paperless processes are also many times faster than paper-based processes, because searches, retrieval, editing, communication and archiving of documents can be done more efficiently and quickly. The clutter free nature of paperlessness and the minimalistic environment it results in is many times more conductive for maintaining a peaceful mind that facilitates a greater focus on our specific work task. A greater focus on the most important tasks will make us more effective and efficient in our approach to reach our goals.
- Save Money: Based on
the advantages we have outlined, it’s easy to understand that one of the many advantages of
paperless office digitization is cost saving. In addition to the cost savings and the
gains that results from enhanced productivity, office digitization also cuts costs by decreasing the need for paper, printing, photocopying, fax, distribution, mail and courier services, office and storage space and commuting.
"The men who succeed are the efficient few. They are the few who have the ambition and will power to develop themselves."
ADVANTAGES FOR ORGANIZATIONS & BUSINESSES
Organizations and businesses
can enjoy many advantages that will have a direct impact on
competitiveness and profits, here are some of the major:
Cost savings: Significant cost savings will result from a number of factors relating to a lesser need for office space infrastructure, government incentives that encourage green businesses and telecommuting, decreased staff turnover and absenteeism, a healthier work force and the increased productivity.
Increased productivity: Several studies have shown dramatic increases in productivity when companies implement distributed work and telecommuting strategies which are facilitated and partly dependent on paperless workstyles. The time and location flexibility will also stimulate employees to be more motivated, creative and productive.
- Staffing flexibility: By adopting a distributed work strategy, organizations can greatly enhance their recruiting capabilities, because they are not limited to hiring employees in a specific geographic area.
- Organizational flexibility and resilience: A paperless workstyle facilitates efficient and easy management of operations when business units and departments are dispersed over different locations, abolishing the need for copying, distribution and filing of paper-based documents. A paperless electronic filing system will enable safe archiving and access of documents from multiple locations. File cabinets currently occupy a vast amount of expensive real estate space in companies, in addition to the cost of the cabinets themselves. A paperless workstyle can render organizations more resistant to operational disruptions that are caused by external anomalies such as political instability, strikes, severe weather or natural disasters.
- Enhanced customer service: paperless workstyles can lead to great improvements in customer services, because they can be extended beyond the workday or workweek without the burden of overtime payments. Employees with different work schedules or living in different time zones can be combined to provide 24 hour service coverage.
- Improved public image: The public has become particularly sensitive when it comes to the impact of corporate operations on the environment. A paperless workstyle is environmentally responsible, and allows the hiring of homebound individuals such as the disabled or at-home parents; this can only improve a company’s public image.
Several interlocking trends are rapidly transforming the rules of business and global competitiveness. The first is globalization. Competition between firms has extended from the local to the international level. The second trend is the growing dominance of information-based and knowledge-based production. The third trend is computer networking and connectivity: today, the Internet supports the exchange of information services and products.
Today's global economy is rapidly becoming a "knowledge economy," and the rules and practices that determine the success of individuals and corporations are changing. Adaptability, intellectual property, and know-how have become more critical than they were in the past, back when traditional economic resources such as natural resources, land, and manpower were the primary assets.
Today's constant change and volatility calls for an increasing organizational and individual capacity to adapt to new conditions, to learn new ways of operation, and to develop new skills and competencies. Maintaining an agile workforce that can meet future needs is critical to organizational effectiveness and survival.
A paperless business can enjoy many advantages in the new economy, both from an employer's point of view and from an employee's perspective.
Learn more about
the many advantages paperless work practices can bring to
businesses in Paperless Joy.
PAPERLESS GLOBAL IMPACT
The rapid adoption of information and communication technologies
is transforming economic and social development around the
world, and especially in developing areas, where paperless ICT
-based practices can greatly contribute to public health,
education, governance, business, and decreasing the gap between
the poor and the rich. Learn more about the global impact of
paperless work practices in Paperless Joy.
THE PAPERLESS FUTURE
Because paperless practices are directly and intimately dependent on information technology, which in turn is evolving at a fast pace, we can expect many advances to occur (even in the near future) that will alter the way we do things. Fortunately, these changes will make paperless practices better, easier and more efficient. They will enable a better simulation of paper and make it easier for us to go paperless. In order to enjoy these new advances in technology we will have to keep an eye on them and occasionally update our knowledge and know-how about our ICT devices and software.
"It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory."
W. Edwards Deming
A great way to prepare for the paperless future is to start going paperless now, by reading the most comprehensive book on Paperless Work and Lifestyle Design with Information & Communication Technology: Paperless Joy.
This book will guide you on how to implement ICT -based paperless practices in a way to become more productive, work less, and enjoy life more. Paperless Joy will help you transition from a 8-to-5 lifestyle to a more flexible.
The paperless practices will produce profound transformations, both at a personal and organizational level. The trend is driven from both directions, or levels, since the proposed changes in individual work styles and lifestyles will eventually impact the organizational and business levels, and vice versa.
"The working and living styles of the Digital Life Artist won't be optional in the near future. They'll be necessary in order to maintain compatibility and competitiveness with the rest of the world, both at the individual and organizational level.
Are you prepared for the future?" George Dimopoulos