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It’s world paper free day! Are you paperless?

by Rowan Jameson, Managing Partner of Business Services, Teléfonica UK

At O2, this week it’s all been about paperless working. Monday saw the launch of a 6 week paperless initiative. On Wednesday, we shared the four stages of going paperless.

And today is World Paper Free Day. The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) is behind this movement. They, like O2, have vowed to reduce the amount of paper they use to be more efficient, collaborative and sustainable.

With this in mind, I think today is perfect opportunity to reflect.  I’m actively encouraging my team to embrace paperless working in all its forms, including taking notes digitally, and consciously trying to reduce the amount we print. But it’s not all been plain sailing. So I thought I’d share the most common struggles we faced in going paperless in the hope it will help you and your organisation.

“I don’t know how to use it.”

Here’s where everyone can help each other.  We’re holding regular online workshops with OneNote and Evernote experts around the business.  Sharing training videos on our intranet.  And putting hints, tips and top tricks on our Yammer chat forum.

 “What if they think I’m just writing emails?”

Laptop out, head down, typing furiously. It’s not the best impression in any meeting – especially a customer one. I think the starting point to overcome this is just to be open about note-taking. Check it’s okay to take notes and offer to share them with all attendees afterwards.  Most will appreciate the offer and it does make post-meeting follow up easier.  Some in my team found their typing skills kept them head down as they’re not touch typists but many have improved and others adopted a stylus so they write as they did before, just digitally.

“I can’t present without notes. And I wanted to provide a hand-out.”

I use the iannotate app which lets me add comments to a copy of the document so I can still have an annotated version while I circulate an original if I need to send out a ‘pre-read’.  I’ve found cutting out paper hand outs stops people flicking through to the end of the slides, although I still wish I could find a way to stop them doing that online!

“What about brainstorming?”

This is harder without paper but there are whiteboard apps out there, especially for the iPad that suggest I can hold the creative sessions without the Post-it notes.  In the meantime, I’ve just been using meeting room AV and getting a new word document to perform the role of a blank sheet of flipchart paper.  At O2 we have interactive white boards that link to a PC or wirelessly to my tablet which has helped.

“Don’t I need a hard copy, just in case?”

Cloud and synchronisation is the new hard copy. Connectivity is now ubiquitous that I feel confident that I can access what’s needed on my device, and share with those that I need to share with.  Obviously, if my customer wants a hard copy, I will provide it but I prefer to explore the concept of paperless. And I often find customers can end up happier with a digital version that they can save to their laptop and share with people around their business.

“Who do I ask if I get stuck?”

I’m an advocate for changing how we work and I’ve also got a Paperless champion in my team.  He picks up on the mutterings across the team, shares ideas between us and is building up a great knowledge bank that is smoothing out the bumps along the way.

I’ve been paperless for 6 months. And, now I’ve got into a routine and found a way of working I can honestly say I won’t go back.  For one thing, I’m so out of practice my handwriting’s nearly illegible!

Show me how you’re going paperless – tweet me @RowanJameson using #O2paperless.

Ready to scale up your business? Call an O2 business specialist on 0800 028 0202 or call free from your O2 mobile on 8002.

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