One Small Change Leads to Sustainable Reduction in Paper Usage by 90 Per Cent for Important SFU Workflow

January 26, 2023

Every day thousands of work orders for Facilities Services across the SFU community are in the works. Work orders could be anything from ordering a plumber for a flooded washroom to upgrading a lighting panel to more individual requests like ordering recycling bins for a new employee or installing artwork in your office.

Fulfilling so many work orders is a multi-step process and, in the past, one of the steps included printing out a piece of paper with the work order details to hand to the responsible trades person. While printing worked in terms of process, it meant a lot of paper was used for this workflow.

As part of the Mobile Work Order project, trades staff were each given an iPhone or iPad Mini with all the information that was previously on the paper work order.

“Implemented this past year, the project sought to look at a more sustainable process as well as give our trades staff the technology they needed to do their jobs,” says Gerry Lopez, manager of strategic initiatives. “We saved a lot of effort and time for all staff involved in this process – from customer service representatives and trades staff to payroll and administration – not to mention successfully reducing our paper usage by 90 per cent and lessening the carbon footprint impact of our department.”

“Instead of having to walk back to the Facilities office to pick up the next work order, trades staff can update the results of their work on the mobile device and work on their next work order straight away,” says Sarah Mallen, manager of civil trades and projects.

Making the entire process electronic not only helped the department reduce waste and its environmental impact, but it also improved customer service for those putting in Facilities requests.

“Our process went from being labour intensive and manual to being electronic and streamlined, providing end-to-end transparency for the customer, clarity for our trades staff working in the field and work that is completed more quickly,” says Joyce Chong, director of administration and real estate services for Facilities.

Adds Chong, “It’s inspiring to see how one change in an ongoing process can make a huge impact to the department’s carbon footprint. As custodians of SFU’s buildings and grounds, we’re always seeking ways to deliver a high standard of excellence in customer service while also contributing to the university’s commitment to sustainability. We hope this will inspire others in the community to look at their processes to see how we can all help SFU achieve its sustainability goals and contribute to a greener environment for our SFU community.”