Some tips on getting folks to “buy in”…

April 8, 2009 at 4:31 am (How-To)

The most important factor of being successful when trying to go paperless (i say that loosely because in the real work environment “going paperless” often means “going less paper”) is participation.

What to do though when people don’t “buy in”?

1) Show them the numbers – Often times a reduction in small amounts of 2-5% can make a SUBSTANTIAL difference in office paper supply costs. Being discreet but transparent into how much exactly excessive printing and use of paper is costing the office will get great buy-in. Simple “Did You Know…” office emails on a semi-regular basis are a great way to introduce employees to something they can read on work time, so make it worthwhile to read while still giving them interesting facts that will help your cause.

2) Be persistent – If you have a goal in your office, there are ways to mention and re-mention things to people in the office who are, to put it nicely, suffering from a wicked paper addiction. Some people just.can’t.help.it. If you give them a sense of ownership in the project, you’ll get way more “buy in” because usually it’s a small percentage ruining it for everyone. Reforming the worst offenders will create great examples for later data collection to show how reducing paper usage has improved a certain process or procedure.

One method I used was to say “Hey so word on the street is that you’re the person in this group/dept that really knows the procedures for xyz really well. From what I understand is that the procedures now require a lot of extra work for your group and I think together we can figure out together what the best way to make the least amount of work is…” then come prepared to educate them on things like printing directly to your desktop or directly onto a shared intranet drive.

3) Educate your office on the first financial, second environmental benefits of reducing paper usage. Regardless of your motivation, posing this as a fiscal matter first with residual positive environmental effect people are more likely to listen, especially when times are tough in a company because it really IS coming down to it at some companies where it’s either you or the supplies and the office needs paper so… lets everyone just try and reduce our paper usage, shall we?? 

4) Be positive about it and draw swift attention to people doing the right thing around the office. The only problem with this is that unless you have software that monitors what is being printed out by user and maintain the log of what is relevant and what is not, truly knowing who is printing less is going to be a tough thing to spot. That said, ANY small victory you’re able to propel to everyone’s attention is VITAL for “buy in”. 

NEVER EVER, EVER CRITICIZE SOMEONE’S USE OF PAPER UNLESS YOU ARE VERY CLOSE WITH THEM AND CAN DRAW ATTENTION TO IT THROUGH FRIENDLY HUMOR…

And if you’re really, REALLY serious about it and have the wherewithal and gall to do it:

5)  Introduce yourself to Lean Office Basics and RUN with it. There is a LOT of money to be saved. There are ways to Nudge people to save money via Lean & Office Kaizen. If done tactfully and you’re committed,  you’ll come out with a new way of thinking and a happy, efficient office to boot.

Good luck!!!

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