How to Persuade Your Office Colleague to Stop Printing Emails

man printing emails

Have you ever wondered why, in this digital age, some colleagues still cling to the ancient practice of printing emails? It’s a head-scratcher, right? 


Yes, we know it’s a habit, but it’s high time we kick this costly and eco-unfriendly practice to the curb. In this blog post, we’ll take a look into some compelling reasons and practical strategies to convince your colleagues to stop printing off emails.


Understanding the challenge: Why do they print emails? And what can be done?


The practice of printing emails persists for several reasons despite having digital copies readily available on computers. We’ll look at each one in turn and give you a simple answer to resolve the problem:


  1. Habit: Many people have grown accustomed to printing emails over the years, and habits are often challenging to break. It’s a behaviour that was more common in the past when digital communication tools weren’t as prevalent as they are today.


Answer: Start by championing digital alternatives. Communicate that printing emails is not a necessity. Show your colleagues the perks of going digital – it’s efficient, eco-friendly, and resource-saving.


  1. Tangibility: Some individuals find comfort in having a physical copy of important information. They may believe that a printed document is more tangible and secure than a digital version that can be accidentally deleted or lost due to technical issues.


Strategy: Encourage colleagues to explore the world of digital documents while maintaining a touch of tangibility. Suggest options like high-quality paperless notebooks or digital stylus devices that mimic the feel of writing on paper. This way, they can enjoy the tactile sensation without the environmental guilt. Remind them that going digital doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort or convenience.


  1. Annotating and Marking: People often print emails to make annotations, highlight important sections, or jot down notes. They might find it easier to do so on a paper copy rather than digitally.


Answer: Encourage the use of digital tools that allow for annotation and note-taking. Show them that going digital can be just as convenient and that efficiency doesn’t have to come at the expense of sustainability.


Here are some of our favourites:

General-purpose tools:



PDF annotation tools:



Web annotation tools:



  1. Legal and Compliance Requirements: In some industries or workplaces, there are legal or compliance requirements that necessitate the retention of physical copies of certain documents, including emails. This could be for auditing purposes or to meet regulatory standards.


Answer: Collaborate with legal experts to ensure digital solutions meet compliance standards. Demonstrate how proper email archiving and digital record-keeping can fulfil regulations while saving trees.


  1. Accessibility Concerns: Some individuals may have concerns about the accessibility of digital documents, especially if they are worried about their ability to access emails during network outages or if they have limited experience with digital tools.


Answer: Provide training sessions and support for colleagues who may feel hesitant about digital tools. Address their concerns by showing them that digital documents can be more secure and accessible than printed ones.


  1. Visual Preferences: Personal preferences play a role as well. Some people simply prefer reading and working with printed materials because they find it easier on the eyes or more comfortable.


Answer: Promote readability in digital formats. Encourage colleagues to adjust screen settings and fonts for maximum comfort. Remind them that digital documents can be as visually appealing as printed ones, minus the environmental cost.


  1. Lack of Awareness: Some employees may not be aware of the environmental impact of printing emails or may not have been introduced to efficient digital document management tools that can replace printed documents.


Answer: Launch awareness campaigns within your office. Share facts and figures about the environmental toll of printing. Introduce colleagues to user-friendly digital tools, making it clear how these tools can replace printed documents.


  1. Resistance to Change: Resistance to change is a common human trait. Convincing individuals to switch from a familiar practice to a new, digital one can be met with reluctance.


Answer: Lead by example. Demonstrate the benefits of going paperless: increased productivity, reduced waste, and a positive impact on the environment. Utilise tools like cloud-based email services to set the standard.


  1. Perceived Professionalism: In some situations, individuals may believe that presenting printed materials during meetings or discussions appears more professional or formal compared to using a digital device.


Answer: Challenge this perception. Showcase the professionalism of digital presentations, demonstrating how sleek, organised, and interactive digital documents can be. Emphasise the sustainability angle, highlighting your office’s commitment to eco-friendly practices.


  1. Limited Digital Literacy: Not everyone is equally comfortable with digital technology. Some individuals may not be confident in their ability to navigate and manage digital documents effectively.


Answer: Offer digital literacy training sessions tailored to different skill levels. Provide step-by-step guidance on using digital tools for email management and document organisation. Boost their confidence in the digital world.


Final Thoughts: Be the Change


So, there you have it – strategies to encourage colleagues to resist printing emails, one step at a time. By embracing digital efficiency, accommodating tactile preferences, navigating regulations, addressing accessibility concerns, and fostering a culture of change, you can transform your office into a more eco-friendly and efficient workspace. 


Convincing your colleagues to stop printing off emails is a worthy endeavour. Highlight the environmental benefits, provide digital tools, lead by example, and engage in open communication. 


Let’s embrace the digital age, save some trees, and make our workplaces greener and more efficient, one email at a time.