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Paper Administration Shift to Electronic Platforms Research Paper


Introduction

The first attempts to support an idea of a paperless office were observed at the end of the 1970s when futurists considered the power of new digital technologies (Pierce 2013). It was believed that paper communication could be irrelevant due to the fast growth of new screens, TV displays, and other devices. In 1978, Lancaster offered the term known as a “paperless society” according to which people could no longer need libraries and the activities where paper played an important role (de Jager 2015). At that period, people neither set clear goals nor understood what outcomes they wanted to achieve as soon as some kind of a paperless movement began.

Today, the idea of paperless offices and society turns out to be vital. Some different positions with clear backgrounds and explanations are given. Some researchers introduce the important benefits of electronic platforms to support a paperless concept (Bhattacharjee 2016; Sy 2016).

At the same time, some people understand the benefits and threats of a paperless world contrasting mobility and reading comfort, and ability to annotate while reading, and a necessity to buy new devices (Berghel 2015; Shenoy & Aithal 2016). Some researchers believe that it is unnecessary or even impossible to remove the paper from the world and establish new rules in a paperless society (Ehrlich & Fu 2014; North 2013). This idea is developed in different directions regarding such factors as personal attitudes, habits, and goals.

Paperless Concept in the 21st Century

In comparison to the uncertainties and challenges of the 19th and 20th centuries, the goals of the people who live today, in the 21st century, are rather clear and definite. People want to save time and achieve as many positive outcomes in different fields as possible. The performance of the technology is hard to quantify, and innovation becomes one of the most pleasant unexpected concepts (Nagy et al. 2013). People also discuss the environmental advantages of a paperless society, including the possibility to save trees, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce fuel consumption (Gupta 2015; McGee 2015).

During the last decade, an idea to create an eco-friendly society has been already supported by many people around the whole world. Earth-friendly behaviors, norms, and policies have been adopted to avoid natural disasters and other unpleasant eco-problems (Gupta 2015). In labs, people start working with the latest technologies and find it effective to make notes on their e-ink screens, but not in their notebooks (Pierce 2013). Still, the possibility to use personal notes exists.

Despite the existing variety of technological devices and opportunities, it is hard to replace paper completely and remove all paper-based activities from everyday life. The history of paper invention is long and significant, starting with the usage of clay tablets, aquatic plants, and bamboo and ending with white sheets of paper (Shenoy & Aithal 2016). Though in the 21st century much attention is paid to recent technologies and progress, a certain respect for historical achievements and developments cannot be neglected.

People appreciate their heritage and underline the importance of remembering how their past generations invented something and prove the worth of these improvements (Nagy et al. 2013). At the same time, the creation of a paperless society is a contribution of modern people who want to achieve as many positive aspects as possible.

The War between Paper’s Positives and Negatives

The creation of a paperless society has numerous positives, as well as negatives, that cannot be solved or avoided. One of the main challenges in the discussion about the appropriateness of a paperless practice is the impossibility to come to the same conclusion. People can find several supportive statements and threats to the idea of the paperless movement.

On the one hand, there is a group of people who believe that it is beneficial to be “paper-free” and start thinking about saving trees, increasing working opportunities, and having more time for other affairs except writing (McGee 2015).

A paperless environment is characterized by quicker responsiveness, operational flexibility, compliance, and productivity (Goodwin 2014). People want to believe that their decision to stop using paper for personal and professional purposes can lead to considerable improvements in their lives. They can save their time, never lose necessary documents, have one general access to all information, and exchange the necessary files in a short period (Bennett 2017). Safety and security attract the attention of many people who do not have a certain position regarding the importance of paperless ideas.

On the other hand, there are many groups of people who prove that modern society is not ready to remove the paper from their lives. Serious psychological and behavioral patterns and paper overload have to be considered. For example, many people continue saving paper at their homes for different reasons, including the necessity to keep documents, save bills, and make short notes (Gupta 2015). For some people, it is just impossible not to make notes using their pens and pencils because it is quick and convenient. One of the examples of such inability to forget about the paper is the possibility to leave a love note on the bed in the morning (Ehrlich & Fu 2014).

The competition that exists between the pros and cons of paper in routine life cannot be stopped. With time, this competition turns into a symbolic war where parties can change their points of view and find enough evidence to support their decisions.

Ergonomics in a Modern World

Ergonomics, also known as human factors, is one of the main aspects that have to be used to support the discussion of a paperless office and clarify what ergonomists think about a life without paper (Radas et al. 2013). First, this term was introduced by Jasterzebowis in Poland in 1857 as an impact of human and economic factors on the industrial revolution (Stack 2016). Today, people use the definition of ergonomics offered by Grandjean as a kind of “fittin the work to the worker”, meaning that human needs can be met in case an applied science is combined with various disciplines and opportunities (Stack 2016, p. 6). Products and services have to be optimized regarding human needs and effective use. However, this ergonomic approach does not support one particular side of the discussion.

There is a chance that people want to improve their working conditions, avoid repetitions or risks, and save time while using new technologies and removing the amounts of paper from their lives. They believe that computers, smartphones, and tablets are effective. However, it is necessary to underline that these are usually young people who believe in the power of technology. There are still many people who respect traditions and like to work under old conditions using paper and real-life communication.

It is hard for some people to forget about their habits or change their interests and preferences, and it is normal for them to make a note on a piece of paper that is at hand or save some papers just to remember something (Gupta 2015). A small sticker is an effective achievement discovered at the beginning of the 21st century, and many people find it convenient and fast to use stickers instead of turning on their PCs, opening a special program, and making a note. Therefore, from the ergonomic perspective, despite numerous intentions to create a paperless society, people are far from it because of personal beliefs and attitudes.

The Importance of Psychological Factors

The discussion about the intentions to move away from paper administration towards electronic platform usage may be supported by mentioning certain psychological factors. First of all, it is important to declare that paper is something almost every person in the world is familiar with. The relations between people and paper have a long history in almost all spheres of life (Shenoy & Aithal 2016). First, people wanted to leave some information about themselves, their past, and their activities (ancient times).

Then, people used paper to underline the importance of their discoveries and achievements in science, literature, medicine, etc. (Shenoy & Aithal 2016). Finally, with time, people found it effective to use paper for different purposes such as packing, writing down notes, exchanging information, demonstrating skills, or memorizing something.

Looking through newspapers during a morning coffee, reading a book before going to sleep, leaving a sticker on a fridge – all these are the routine habits that cannot be forgotten. People get used to taking these actions, and they even do not understand that these simple steps have already become their habits. People just cannot stop doing it (Gupta 2015). Still, in their newspapers, they may find some information about recent technologies or a concept of a paperless society (Bennett 2017).

In their books, they can learn that ergonomics cannot be avoided (Stack 2016). Sometimes, people prefer to send an e-mail or SMS instead of leaving a sticker. Technological communication becomes more attractive for different purposes (de Jager 2015). Regarding such needs and traditions, people are at a loss of what they have to do and support. They do not know if it is necessary to enter a new paperless society or keep following traditions and respect history. Paper administration turns out to be a serious psychological challenge for many people.

Papers and Administrators

In the workplace, the paper is frequently used for many purposes. Therefore, the role of administrators, as well as their attitudes to the importance of paper or the necessity to remove it, must be discussed. Today, there are many meetings and guidelines in terms of which administrators learn how to go paperless (Chando & Miller n.d.). Administrators may find it necessary to support the promotion of a paperless office. There are many reasons for such a decision.

The most evident causes include cost and time (Chando & Miller n.d.). Many administrators admit that their companies spend much money on paper and ink. It is not enough to buy this material for employees only. Paper has to be available to customers, visitors, and other stakeholders. Besides, a paper-based office makes employees take many steps and follow directions properly. Much time may be needed to print, copy, and distribute the necessary material. The reduction of paper consumption is a solution that can be offered to administrators (Gupta 2015). Some organizations support the idea of “going green” and using a paperless option for billing statements (Sy 2016). The environment and convenience are not the only reasons for administrators to remove the paper from their workplace.

Paperless systems facilitate the processes of sharing information. It turns out to be a time-consuming process to edit and revise hard copies and send them back in a short period (Goodwin 2014). Electronic platforms have definite benefits, including the possibility to reach any person or a group of people as quickly as possible and send a message, documents, guidelines, or other important material (Ehrlich & Fu 2014).

Regarding such benefits and effectiveness of paperless systems, it is hard to think about the disadvantages of a paperless office for administrators. Still, there are several points for consideration. First, administrators have to understand that customers differ in their needs and possibilities. Therefore, if a person does not belong to that “technologically aware” group of people, the establishment of relations through electronic platforms can be a difficult task (Chando & Miller n.d.). Besides, training and funding are obligatory in such a paperless workplace. Finally, in their intentions to save costs on ink and paper, some administrators disregard the necessity to buy new devices and make sure that all customers and employees can use them anytime they need it.

Papers and Customers

Customers, as direct users of paper in their routine life, undergo a considerable impact of moving away from paper administration as well. Many people use the benefits of online communication because of the possibility to save their time and not to be confused with writing a lot. During the last decade, customers have been offered to go online and neglect the opportunity of all those paper statements (Cyprus 2017). Sometimes, it is easy to go paperless and develop business relations with customers online. In some cases, paperwork is required to clarify some important issues and make sure that every detail is comprehensible.

Finally, in many organizations, people believe that they can go paperless, but they do not necessarily want to do it (Cyprus 2017). People are free to have their own opinions, and the creation of a paperless society is an issue that cannot be ended in one particular recommendation.

As a rule, the effects of going paperless vary regarding the spheres and fields. For example, it seems to be beneficial for patients, as potential customers of hospitals, to use electronic platforms instead of papers to give their information, mention every important point, and avoid the necessity to wait in lines (Cyprus 2017). Doctors can obtain any necessary information online and do it quickly to focus on treatment but not on doing paperwork. Shopping is another field where customers should succeed with a paperless concept. It is easy for people to use credit cards instead of paper money while shopping and be confident that they cannot be bamboozled or misled.

The negative aspects of a paperless society for customers may be such aspects as the importance of learning how to use devices and stay online constantly (Chando & Miller n.d.). Some people cannot get rid of their habits to leave paper bills to count their purchases and use these bills as evidence (Gupta 2015). Finally, additional costs on new devices, Wi-Fi, and software may challenge some customers (de Jager 2015). If customers do not use papers, they have to use online services. To be online means to be under a threat of virus software and other online frauds. Not all customers are emotionally and psychologically ready to go away from paperwork.

For and Against Paper in Different Fields

The benefits of electronic platforms in healthcare and shopping have been already discussed. However, the list of fields where people find it normal to use paper is long. To understand the effects of a paperless idea on administrators and customers, it is necessary to clarify what pros and cons of papers people may rely on. Three fields will be chosen for consideration: education, science, and law.

Education is the field where people get new knowledge, develop their skills, and investigate their opportunities. During the last several years, educational interventions have been directed to the necessity to reduce the number of sedentary activities and increase goal-setting strategies and self-monitoring under usual living conditions (Radas et al. 2013). In some schools, students are encouraged to develop their oral skills and practice a lot instead of spending hours to develop impressive written projects. Besides, today, it is easy to create an interesting academic project online with the help of specific technologies and devices. Students should not take many hard books.

They can use one tablet and read all the necessary information there (Bhattacharjee 2016). There are also many online lessons in terms of which people send their homework paperless and get their grades the same way. Still, not all teachers understand how to remove the paper from their work. They have to be trained and explained to a lot of things (Chando & Miller n.d.). Some parents find it necessary to protect their children’s eyes against the negative effects of technologies. Even though people may not use paper, they simply do not want to reject this opportunity (Cyprus 2017). It is a personal issue that cannot be changed.

In science, the use of paper turns out to be a serious issue for discussion. Many scientists find it effective to choose computers and special programs to store their findings, make calculations, and exchange information. It is easy to find a required portion of work and use it in regards to some discoveries. The factor of ergonomics is the main supportive factor of going away from paper use (Nagy et al. 2013). At the same time, science is the field where it is impossible to stop using paper due to its importance in different laboratory experiments. From an administrative point of view, there are enough examples and evidence on how to go paperless.

The field of law is where the paper is frequently used for different purposes such as the creation of agreements and laws, the exchange of rules and guidelines, the establishment of different types of business relations, and legal evidence of different activities. Electronic platforms help to find a necessary file, archive the data, and keep private information confidential with the help of different passwords and protective software (Sy 2016). It is not difficult for modern lawyers to use technologies online. Experienced people who entered the sphere of law when online archives and electronic databases were not frequently used face certain challenges when they have to adopt new approaches in the workplace.

The evaluation of these fields and the attitudes of different people to the idea of paperless work prove that paper administration may be removed to support the utilization of electronic paperless platforms (North 2013). The only concern that has to be investigated is whether people want to take this step and accept this change.

Electronic Platforms and the Future

The benefits of moving to a paperless environment are discussed in different fields due to widely-spread electronic technologies and online opportunities (Goodwin 2014). Many organizations find it helpful to provide their employees with a chance to shift to paperless communication and avoid certain obligations and requirements (Ehrlich & Fu 2014). It is easy to find an e-mail address and send a letter using a computer instead of buying a letter, writing with the help of a pen with no opportunity to correct a mistake unnoticeably, visiting a post office, buying a stamp, and sending a message. Internet access and a new mobile device turn out to be a more fashionable direction in comparison to the ability to write grammatically correct (Sy 2016). In some cases, it is easy to place a photo or a smiley instead of writing something.

In the administration field, electronic technologies help to save time, use archives, make information confidential, and share it fast with people from different parts of the world (Chando & Miller n.d.). The old way of how all documents had to be administrated was long and inconvenient: it was necessary to create, print, make copies, revise, improve, store in safe places, and make sure that no one could touch it (Chando & Miller n.d.). A paperless way removes the majority of steps and makes people focus on filling in the already offered templates, send the material to any part of the world, and use it anytime they may be needed.

Electronic platforms can be used to increase the participation of people in various discussions and improvements. Administrators and customers can exchange some facts quickly and save sources in case their further usage is intended (Bennett 2017). Finally, the use of electronic platforms remains to be one of the best decisions for those who support an idea of the “green environment” (McGee 2015). People stop using papers and save trees. Paper overload should not be recycled, and greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced.

Conclusion

The debates between paper administration and electronic platforms (a paperless office) continue developing today. For some businesses, a paperless office is like a dream (Bennett 2017). While for some organizations, the idea of having electronic databases has already become a reality. Even though not all people are ready to reduce paper utilization, the paperless society is approaching them, whether they like it or not (Sy 2016).

There are many digital libraries, online forums, conferences, and meetings, e-commerce, and online learning (Berghel 2015). People do not even notice that they make themselves ready to enter a paperless world. However, when they are informed about the necessity to stop using paper or, at least, reduce its usage, people start thinking about new boundaries and standards which they do not want to be framed of.

Reference List

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