Paperless office on the rise

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

No more reading from paper, but working on your laptop whenever you can. The paperless office is on the rise. “Frits de Groot, director Energy and Environmental Affairs of the sector organisation for small and medium sized businesses MKB Nederland, says: ”the trend is growing fast. In particular businesses in the service industries are increasingly changing over to working without paper”.

One of the companies which have changed over to a nearly paperless working method is the Accenture consultancy firm which has offices in Amsterdam and Almere. The company is active in 120 countries and has 190,000 employees worldwide. Accenture uses only flexible workspaces and laptops.

Management promotes working from home and meetings are held in rooms equipped with beamers so no paper is wasted on printing agendas. All printing at the Accenture offices is two sided and only in black. Staff have to submit a request to print something in colour. And there is only one printer per department.

In principle, only contracts and presentations are printed on paper. Personnel Director Thomas Mulder says: “We have noticed that people like to keep digital schedules and to work together on projects. Printing is not part of that”.

Paperless’ consumes more power
And yet, there are clear disadvantages to going fully digital. Spokesperson Hans van Dijk of Milieu Centraal, an advisory organisation for environmental and energy issues, points to an increase in power consumption at paperless offices. “They make an increasing use of computers and other electrical equipment”.

However, Mr van Dijk was unable to say how much more power business can use without harming the environment if they completely do away with paper. “Trees must be cut down to produce paper. For computers, you need plastics, metals and power. The last word on the comparison of the environmental effects has not yet been spoken”.

More paper, more trees
MKB Director Frits de Groot rejects the argument that trees are lost due to the use of paper. “Paper producers plant two new ones for every tree they cut down. That is pure self-interest because they would otherwise deplete their supply of raw material. So it is really the other way around. The more paper we use the more trees and forests there will be”.

Mr de Groot advises businesses to look for the optimal mix of working digitally and working with paper. Working digitally often takes less time. “Just one push of a button provides many people with information. Also, you can always be reached digitally when you are on the road. That would be a lot more complicated when using only paper”.

 

 

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