Damn you paperless office, why can't you just happen?

Monday, July 30, 2012

cut out paper letters in fromt of a pile of paper

This is killing me. A couple of years ago I read about this lady at UBC who is magically able to make her office paperless - you can check out the article for yourself. Of course I become instantly green with envy (you like what I just did right there). I must have a paperless office too! I mean, if there is an office at the University of Ottawa that is going to be the first to become paperless.... why not our office?

A couple of years later and reality of still kicking us in the gut. My desk is still a monument to paper. And so is everyone else's actually. There are a couple of hard truths that I have been ignoring.
1- I work with engineers and architects and so there is a whole lot of paper lovin' going on here (blueprints)
2- We don't have super modern equipment here... no I-Pads in every corner
3- Almost everyone here is over 50 so the ageist part of me wants to lay the blame on old school thinking

Beyond that, there are also a couple of things that I really like getting in paper format
1- Magazines... they are just so colourful
2- Concept sketches. When it is not done on paper I always think they are unrealistic somehow
3- Reminder notes. I have no good excuse for these

So the article about Lynn's group talks about the idea that going paperless was a journey and that it would take time. F@®% that, I want results now. Our office has been starting to track our work on Basecamp, we are sharing a bunch of our documents on DropBox, and we are doing our meeting notes on a laptop. We even take pictures of the white board and share it with everybody instead of just drawing it out. Okay, here is a more comprehensive list
  1. DropBox - for sharing documents online instead of printing extra copies and sharing them
  2. BaseCamp - for tracking workflow and tasks instead of sticky notes and endless emails
  3. Note pad - for taking the most bare bones notes at meetings
  4. EverNote - for meeting notes when on the go (super good for listening to presentations because you can add pictures)
  5. OneNote - for sharing concepts and ideas in a nice collage format
  6. Google docs - for collaborative work
  7. And for good measure, we use recycled notebooks and paper to take notes and post things

But at the end of the day the paper is still there!
I have even started forcing paperlessness on others. I know that I shouldn't but it seems like the only way that this is going to happen. I started using the .wwf Format to force others to not be able to print pdfs (this is a pretty nifty tool be the way). Sometimes at meetings, I don't send people the agenda ahead of time and only post the agenda on the projector.

And despite all this, paper still persists. What are we missing? What else should we be doing as a best practice?  We tried to get into signing PDFs but that is extremely complicated. We post things on our Social Media sites but people still want their posters.
Please help, I want a world without paper but a world without paper doesn't seem to want me.

~jON - campus sustainability manager
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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