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Google Joins Drive For Paperless Office

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Tech giant has thrown its weight behind a campaign for companies to be transformed into paperless offices

The long-running aspiration of a “paperless office” could be one step nearer after Google added its backing to a new campaign.

The campaign, entitled “Paperless 2013”, is being led by online fax specialist HelloFax, which is backed by a number of companies including Google Drive (cloud storage), Fujitsu ScanSnap (scanner division), Xero (online accounting), Expensify (online expense reports), Manilla (online bill management) and HelloSign (e-Signatures).

Paperless office pressure

The campaign aims to provide monthly tips and articles for companies who sign up, showing how they can achieve a paperless office in 2013.

It hopes to employ peer pressure, coupled with backers’ various online services and tools, to help businesses go paperless. This reportedly includes giving members free or discounted offerings from the above mentioned online service providers such as Google Drive.

“The digital tools that are available today blow what we had even five years ago out of the water,” Joseph Walla, HelloFax founder and CEO, was reported as saying by TechCrunch.

“For the first time, it’s easy to sign, fax and store documents without ever printing a piece of paper,” Walla said. “It’s finally fast and simple to complete paperwork and expense reports, to manage accounting, pay bills and invoice others. The paperless office is here – we just need to use it.”

Long-running aspiration

The drive to achieve the paperless office has been a long-term aspiration for many years now. The environmental implications of achieving a paperless office are often used to encourage corporations to ditch paper, although the printer industry will no doubt be hoping the campaign will quietly go away.

The Paperless 2013 campaign, for example, quotes figures from the US Environmental Protection Agency, which states that the average US office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. In 2010, the amount of paper recovered for recycling averaged 334 pounds for each person living in the US, according to the American Forest & Paper Association. The UK is not much better.

Despite these statics, its seems that many office workers are loath to give up their paper. Back in February 2010, a survey from AIIM, the content management association, foundoffice staff are still hanging on to paper, despite the wide availability of scanners and document management systems.

The survey found 62 percent of important paper documents are still archived as paper. Even when documents are sent off for archive scanning, 25 percent are photocopied beforehand “just in case”. And less than a third of the paper originals are systematically destroyed after scanning.

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