In short, ensuring a smooth and complete transformation to a paperless office would require employees to be excited about using paperless or online alternatives. This week's mailer suggests a few approaches to eliminating the use of paper.
Committed to converting his office into a paperless retreat, the director of a mortgage unit installed the latest scanners to discourage documents being printed, photocopied and sent to clients. He also invested in state of the art systems to speed up online communication. Soon after the scanners and systems were commissioned he made an announcement in the cafeteria declaring the office as 'paper free from tomorrow'. In addition to the protests that followed his announcement, what came as a blow was when some employees threatened to quit. The lesson learnt was to be careful in introducing technology to employees.
A recent study confirms that 70 percent of IT initiatives have failed. New systems end up untouched or under-used because employees find either the hardware or the applications too confusing and even difficult to use. As a result, the old paper-centric ways remain popular. Also, as Moez Limayem, an IT professor says, "IT projects fail not because of the technology but because human beings resist change and uncertainty." Therefore, in introducing the concept of a paperless office, the first step should be to excite employees about it to ensure high buy-in. Here are a few initiatives to create the hype.
Working towards the top
Clichéd as it sounds, nothing gains momentum without top management buy-in. But investing in technology based on top management inputs can be a big mistake. With employees as end-users, it is prudent to involve them in deciding on technologies to invest in.
- Advertise the findings of the survey to convey the requirement of technology
- Highlight how new technology will enhance on-the-job productivity
- Share encouraging case studies and other success stories
While it is the employee who gains the maximum from the use of technology, organisations still have to motivate them to use it. What works best are monetary incentives. A sales organisation encouraged the use of technology by tying commissions to sales generated by use of technology. A salesperson with maximum online clients and interactions took home the largest bonus. As the use of technologically- intensive processes continues to remain low, monetary incentives work well.