I would like you to digest this piece of information just for a minute: According to “The Balance”, for the first time in the nation’s history there are four generations working together side by side. There are the Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y all contributing skills to the legal workforce. Imagine that! This is the largest generation gap Administrators have ever experienced in the legal industry and workplace dynamics have to evolve to accommodate. One of the dynamics is how the different generations perceive green initiatives.
“Going Green” is a serious priority and the legal industry is no stranger to the topic. Decreasing the carbon footprint has not only become important to our clients but also to our employees and vendors. Products, new procedures and ideas are circulating in law firms across the country to be environmentally friendly with green initiatives while complying with client requests and government regulations.
But is it worth it? Well it depends on who you ask. That circles us back to the generational gap. Traditionalist and Baby Boomers generally do not have paper reduction on the radar. They love tangible files and loads of paper to skim through and work with. They are skeptical of the computer and the ability to retrieve scanned documents. They continue to print every email and save a paper copy in the file and sometimes save to an online file. Recycling has not been a major concern. I task you to go around the office and see the Baby Boomers’ and Traditionalists’ workspaces. How much paper do they retain? Now, compare to workspaces of other generations; Generation X, Y and Millennials. These groups grew up in the digital world with the evolution of computer network solutions. They enjoy paperless and document management systems. They will take scanning a document over filing it away every time. They are also the same groups willing to spend more money on recycled items. They are individuals who gasp when they do not see recycle containers spread around a law firm. Don’t believe me? Again, go around your law firm and check out their offices and workspaces. Compare the generations and ask yourself is there a difference?
Global Green Initiative is not a passing trend. With the digital world almost everything can be handled through an App or from a computer, the relevance of paper has dwindled. It is indeed a necessary solution to an environmental burden that continues to plague our planet and our health.
So the next time you feel a need to print out that report, think to yourself “Can I just view that on the screen, or do I really need to print it to just throw out or file away in a drawer”.