We are in an era where people are becoming more aware about the environment and are taking conscious decisions to reduce their carbon footprint.
People are now choosing to recycle more, drive more fuel efficient cars and install smart meters into their homes to monitor their energy usage.
This increased social desire to become more environmentally-friendly has put businesses under increasing pressure to decrease the amount of waste they are outputting. The Government is also piling on the pressure and has created a Waste Prevention Programme for England, which aims to encourage businesses to reduce their wastage, including paper waste.
Reducing paper usage and adopting paperless working should be at the top of businesses’ priority lists, particularly as 50% of all waste generated from businesses is paper-based.
But, not all industries find it easy to ditch paper for good, or even reduce their usage.
Our ‘Death of the paper trail’ report, which surveyed 1,000 employees across a variety of industries, found that employees working in the education sector rely the most on paper. In fact, an astonishing 80% of staff admitted that paper is a key component that allows them to carry out their jobs effectively.
This may be down to staff feeling the need to print off lesson notes or homework sheets for the entire class. But, with interactive whiteboards, projectors, tablets and mobile applications, technology is readily-available to help the the education industry reduce its paper output.
However, it isn’t just this sector that still relies heavily on paper. Our report found that over two thirds of employees within the finance (68%) and construction and utilities (67%) industries admit that they are also too reliant on paper.
What is extremely worrying to see, however, is that businesses within education and trade are failing to implement steps to reduce their paper usage. In fact, a third of businesses within the educational (34%) and construction and utilities (33%) sectors admit their companies have taken no steps to reduce their wastage.
But, while certain industries are failing to reduce their waste, some forward-thinking sectors are taking measures to decrease the amount of paper waste they produce.
According to employees within the finance sector, 77% of businesses have introduced paper-saving processes. And within the legal sector, an industry that has been set in its ways for centuries and rarely sees change, four-fifths (80%) of employees state that their bosses have implemented paper-less working practices.
So, how can other sectors follow in these footsteps and reduce the amount of paper they’re using?
One answer could be the use of technology. Technological advancements, such as the internet and mobile devices, have already significantly reduced reliance on traditional processes, such as printing documents and posting mail.
But, there are now also digital data capture solutions that can help businesses to reduce the amount of paper they waste. By adopting solutions, such as WorkMobile, paper documents can be swapped for completely digital forms, which can then be stored in the cloud. With documents stored in the cloud, all employees can access them remotely in an instant via their mobile devices. Digital forms also provide cost-effective benefits, as business won’t have to continuously print out physical documents, meaning they will save money on printing equipment and resources.
Technology isn’t the only way that paper usage can be minimalised – introducing paperless working policies is another way businesses can reduce their paper consumption.
Today’s employees are already supporting paperless working, with our research finding that 30% of employees are now only printing out physical files when absolutely necessary and 7% admit to rarely using a printer at all. It is therefore up to businesses to match employees’ desires for paperless working.
Company bosses should look at introducing internal policies to encourage workers to use less paper. This could be the introduction of yearly printing credits to make staff prioritise and limit what they print, or even providing staff with digital handheld devices and encouraging greater use of email and cloud-based storage so documents can be handled and accessed entirely digitally.
With so much technology now readily available, it is disappointing to see that some industries are still relying so heavily on paper. In today’s world, there is no need for documents to be printed out on a daily basis, especially given that more and more employees are now working remotely and are using mobile devices. Now is the time for company bosses to move towards paperless working to improve internal processes and protect the environment – the future of their businesses could depend on it.
To read the full report and research findings, please visit: https://www.workmobileforms.com/research-and-whitepapers/