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Published: 30 Mar 2016

Paperless working?

The discussion is misleading and wrong!

A colleague and I prepared a small hands-on workshop for other colleagues on paperless working. Whereas it is more than paperless, it is simply "going digital". We have been discussing paperless working, we have been discussing Zero-Email policies, we have had discussions about much more, And...nothing changed. At least soo little that I did not recognize it. Despite all honorable efforts to change things, first thing to be acknowledged is, that my colleagues (or some) want to change things. The organisation wants to change things, this is why we invest a lot in experiments, trainings, policies, you name it. A fact is, many colleagues (my guess on the numbers) in education want to change working structures (as in any type of office work on earth),

My colleague and I came, during our preparation for the workshop, to the conclusion that any change is obviously driven by either intrinsic motivation to experiment with new tools, methods, apps or driven by the need for more effectiveness or efficiency, or a combination of those three. Based on that, there is no "one solution" to go paperless or digital (meaning to use more apps or tools for teaching, production of material or collaboration among colleages and students). "The" solution does not exist, this is not rocket science. Most people know this by intuition. But the problem is, and here comes the difficult part for any organisation or company, how to help people on this journey if top-down approaches do not work. A great example for a top-down approach could be the several Zero-Mail experiments I have seen, such as using yammer instead of emails. Imagine you would be forced to skip emails (internally) and switch to a corporate social network as yammer. I do not need to tell you how many people will be frustrated. 

The majority of colleagues are not early adaptors, nor can they be (by defintion). Most people have good reasons to be resistant if changes come along the way in terms of techonology, One reason important reason is the personal way of doing things. This needs an individual approach. That is why I see a colleagues using Whatsup in communication with students, the other one Facebook, the third one emails. Students are sometimes annoyed by this heterogenous way of cummnicating with "their" university (members). The solution from my point of view is both, vague and to the point. Vage, because we need to allow multiple ways working including BYOD, own software, own apps, own ways of communicating. To the point means, we need useful support for colleagues and students on how to organize tools, apps and devices for teaching and working. We need to help people to figure out what our IT infrastructure can provide (few know the full picture, incl. students!). We need to tell them what our requirements are (think of privacy issues). We need to strategically analyse what colleagues use already (hard- and software/apps), how they use it and what needs they want to serve (think of the above: intrinsic motivation to play/experiment, increase efficiency, increase effectiveness). This is, why we work through these aspects in a workshop and want to help colleagues to figure out if they wanna go further digital or not, and if so how they can get their custom package (hard- and software and configuration) to get things done.

Sounds simple, but I am curious how this workshop will work. I have not had such a course nor given one and I hope we find a more efficient way to become more effective and have fun,