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The environmental cost of paper processes for mobile working

The environmental cost of paper processes for mobile working

A mobile workforce and a paper-based management process is a bad combination for the environment.

The most obvious problem is the daily reliance on mounds of paper documents - job sheets, work reports, site plans and all the other paperwork a mobile worker needs while they are out on the road.

You can find a full guide to the problems with a paper-based approach here.

But there’s an environmental consequence of paperwork that’s less immediately obvious. For a mobile operation, vehicle emissions will be the main factor affecting the size of the organisation's carbon output.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that road vehicles contribute around a fifth (21%) of all GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions within the UK, having risen by 6% over the past decade.

A paper-based approach to mobile working is a problem because it creates inefficient and unnecessary road journeys as paper documentation is distributed across the workforce.

Improving road efficiency is one area where environmental and business interests are perfectly aligned. Fuel represents around 30% of the overall costs of a vehicle fleet.

So here’s a look at the issue:

 

How does a paper process increase road usage?

Traditional management has relied on the distribution of paper documentation across the organisation. That’s everything from schedules and job sheets to policy documents and completion reports.

This paperwork has to be regularly picked up and dropped off by field-based employees, either at an office or depot. Each one of these journeys is unnecessary now that we have effective digital communications.

A system such as MyMobileWorkers delivers a paperless administration process with all of the information a mobile worker needs being accessed via a cloud-based system and a handheld device.

Schedules, task sheets, site plans and any additional data that’s required is all accessible via a smartphone or tablet. Finished job sheets are instantly made available to back-office staff, removing the need for any shuttling of paperwork.

Eliminating the need for these additional trips is particularly effective at cutting costs and carbon emissions as they tend to be made and the start and finish of the working day - when roads are at their most congested.

 

How much can be saved by switching to a paperless process?

This will depend on an organisation’s existing administration process and its reliance on paper-based documentation. For building services company MC Contracts, the switch to MyMobileWorkers has delivered a weekly travel time reduction of 45 hours.

This kind of reduction delivers significant benefits in terms of reduced fuel costs, increased productivity and a much more efficient administrative process. You can find a full case study on the experiences of MC Contracts here.

 

What about job scheduling?

The use of AI technology and smarter scheduling can play an important role in reducing road journeys. Mobile workforce management software automatically works out the shortest and most efficient order of jobs - significantly cutting wasted journeys.

There’s also a general reduction in the time that workers spend completing admin tasks while they’re out on the road. Often paper documentation is filled after job completion, with the worker sat in their vehicle and the engine idling.

The switch from paper to digital management means that data can be collected during the job - not after. There’s no need for paperwork to be completed after a job is finished.

 

Summary: Smart, clean and cost-effective

When reduced road travel is combined with all of the other environmental benefits that a paperless process delivers, it makes a real difference. It’s not just good for the planet, it’s good for any business that relies on a mobile workforce.

 

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