How to Engage Your Team in the Transition to a Paperless Office

The shift toward paperless offices in the conveyancing industry has become a necessity, driven by the need for greater efficiency, security, and sustainability. However, the success of this transition depends heavily on your team’s willingness and ability to adapt to these changes. 

We know that human beings are hardwired to resist change.  So naturally, you might find that you’re up against some opposition when introducing new processes or procedures into your office.

Remember that this resistance does not come from a place of defiance. Instead, it is often fear of the unknown, the ‘comfortableness’ of the norm (no matter how clunky or time-consuming that is) or even anxiety around what these changes might mean for your team’s jobs and workload.

So, if you’re considering taking steps to transition your business to a paperless office, here are some strategies to help bring your team along on that journey:

1. Communicate your vision for a paperless office.

Before introducing any changes, it’s essential to articulate a clear vision of why transitioning to a paperless office is beneficial. Understanding the bigger picture will help your team to recognise why the changes you’re introducing are so important (and also, ‘whats in it for them’).

Highlight how it will streamline workflows, reduce errors, enhance security, and contribute to a more sustainable workplace. Ensure your team understands that this transition isn’t about replacing them with technology but about making their jobs more manageable and more enjoyable. 

2. Involve your team from day one.

Include your team members in the decision-making process right from the beginning. You can do this in various ways, such as asking for their input on what digital tools and software to implement, how to implement certain changes and weighing up the pros and cons for different solutions. 

When your employees feel that they’re being listened to and that their opinions are valued, they’re more likely to embrace the changes wholeheartedly.

It’s important to note that if this collaborative process isn’t something that they’ve been involved in before, they may be apprehensive to contribute at first. Continue to ask for their feedback and encourage them to share their views. It won’t happen overnight, but your persistence will pay off. 

3. Provide adequate training.

Transitioning to a paperless office often means adopting new software and tools. Ensure that your team receives thorough training to build their confidence in using these tools effectively. It is likely that one-off training will not be sufficient, particularly if they’re learning whilst simultaneously managing a portfolio of properties.

Offer ongoing, regular training sessions and resources, including opportunities to provide feedback and ask questions. If you have the resources to do so, you might consider temporarily lightening their workload while they get a handle on the new systems and processes.

4. Highlight the benefits (for the business and them).

Emphasise the advantages of the transition. Paperless offices lead to reduced clutter, faster document retrieval, and improved accessibility to information, allowing your team to work more efficiently. Moreover, going paperless often results in cost savings, which can translate into better job security and potential salary increases.

Ensure your team is aware of both the benefits to the business as well as for themselves. You’ll have a far more difficult time trying to implement a change that only benefits your business compared to implementing one that also benefits your team.

5. Start small. It’s not a race to be a paperless office.

Begin the transition by digitising specific processes rather than overhauling the entire conveyancing process at once. For example, digitise your matter checklist (by using your workflow within Realtime Conveyancer) but retain the paper checklist for a period of time until your team is confident with the digital method. 

This gradual approach allows your team to adapt without feeling overwhelmed. It also offers the opportunity to gather feedback and make necessary changes based on what’s working and what’s not.

6. Foster a learning culture.

Encourage a culture of continuous learning within your organisation. Invest in your team and provide regular opportunities for them to attend workshops, webinars, or conferences. Empower them to seek out professional development opportunities that align with areas they feel they need assistance.

This investment in their professional development can boost their confidence when navigating the transition to a new digital working environment.

7. Offer support and resources.

Not everyone is going to pick things up at the same speed. Recognise that some team members may be more tech-savvy than others. 

Ensure that additional support and resources, such as training and software assistance, are readily available and that they know how to access them to address their concerns and questions promptly.

8. Create digital champions.

Identify those employees who are more ‘tech-savvy’. Empower them to become digital champions within your organisation. Often, you’ll find that your team will be more inclined to turn to each other for support rather than management, and these digital champions can serve as mentors for staff to lean on. 

9. Monitor progress, and don’t forget to celebrate successes!

Regularly assess the progress of the transition using both quantitative and qualitative measures. Consider things like time spent working on matters, employee and client satisfaction and cost reduction. 

It is also just as important (if not more) to celebrate achievements along the way. Acknowledging milestones and recognising the efforts of your team can boost morale and maintain their enthusiasm for the changes.

10. Be patient and genuinely encourage feedback.

Transitioning to a paperless office can be challenging, and it’s essential to be patient with your team as they adapt. They will take longer to complete tasks in the beginning as they get used to the new processes. Give them time to learn and adapt before making any more changes.

Encourage open and honest feedback to address any concerns promptly and make necessary improvements.

11. Lead by example.

As a leader, it’s vital to lead by example. Embrace the changes yourself and show your team that you are committed to the paperless transition. Share your challenges and openly communicate the steps that you take personally to overcome these challenges and embrace the changes.

Your enthusiasm and willingness to learn can inspire your team to follow suit.


Why are we wired to resist change, and what can we do about it?

No one likes change. It’s human nature to seek out things that are familiar and known to us. And so often, we meet change with hesitation and resistance. This hardwired instinct is our brain’s way of safeguarding us from potential risks and dangers. However, it can also hold us back from embracing new, more efficient, and innovative ways of doing things.

When it comes to conveyancing, we only have to look at the last 10-15 years to see just how much change the industry has endured. Electronic conveyancing, verification of identity, Foreign Resident Capital Gains Withholding, GST Withholding. And so the list goes on… Often (somewhat unsurprisingly), these changes were met with resistance and frustration by those impacted.

Having endured so many regulatory changes, business owners have found themselves needing more time and motivation to make impactful procedural changes to modernise their conveyancing businesses. Familiar, safe processes can be easy to accept, even if they are slow and heavily manual. However, for your business to continue to grow and thrive, a more streamlined, technology-driven approach is essential.

So, how can understanding the psychology of change help conveyancers and their staff transition to modern conveyancing practices?

First, let’s understand the brain’s resistance to change

Our brains are wired to resist change. To our brain, familiarity equals safety. In conveyancing, this means that even if your current methods are slow, error-prone, and frustrating, they still feel safe because they are known to you. On the flip side, learning something new can trigger feelings of uncertainty and potential risk.

Think about your current processes. You probably use many extra steps and workarounds to overcome the limitations of the tool or process and ensure a successful outcome.

But what if you could change your process or system to avoid the need for these safeguards?

Objections to change are entirely normal. Often, they’re rooted in our instinctual need to be in our ‘safe zone’. So, rather than bulldozing through any objections to change that your team may raise or donning a ‘like it or lump it’ attitude, you’ll achieve a far more favourable outcome if you address them with empathy and understanding.

Embrace your and your team’s worries and anxieties

Feeling worried, anxious or overwhelmed about change is entirely valid. It’s a sign that your brain is dealing with an unfamiliar situation. It’s essential to convey to your team that these emotions are normal and not insurmountable obstacles. It is OK that it may take time for everyone to adapt and feel comfortable with new processes and tools.

Open, honest and frequent communication without fear of judgement or negative repercussions is vital to ease your team’s concerns about any impending change. In all honesty, it’s pretty likely you’ll experience many of the same feelings yourself. After all, if you’ve done things the same way for many years, any change to this ‘norm’ will feel tricky at the start. You may even second-guess your decision to implement the changes at points throughout your journey.

Being kind to yourself and your team, setting reasonable milestones and reflecting regularly on your progress are essential.

Don’t forget to learn from your mistakes

Mistakes may happen. In fact, we can almost guarantee that they will, especially during the initial learning phase. Instead of viewing these mistakes as failures, consider them opportunities for improvement. Put a plan together for how you will mitigate or manage these mistakes and, most importantly, learn from them. 

Again, open communication with your team is key here. They should feel confident about bringing concerns or challenges to the table to workshop solutions and receive additional training for any ‘sticky bits’.

Sharing stories with your team of how you’ve overcome challenging issues can help everyone feel more confident navigating new systems and processes.

Give yourself time, change doesn’t happen overnight

Change takes time, and it’s essential to acknowledge that things might take longer than expected while you’re in the learning phase. You cannot expect to implement a new system or procedure and get things done as quickly as before from day one. 

Of course, the goal when implementing changes in your office is to be more efficient and work more effectively. So it can be disheartening when what you thought would speed things up actually seems to take longer. Be patient with yourself and your team. As you gain experience and practice, your efficiency will increase, and these processes will get faster.

Future-proof your conveyancing business

Embracing change in your conveyancing office is not just about adopting the latest new flashy tech. Change for the sake of change or because ‘everyone else is doing it’ won’t cut the mustard. It’s about looking at your business, your staff, and your clients and evolving and adapting to meet their new needs in this fast-paced, dynamic industry. 

And while we’re hard-wired to resist change, recognising the benefits that the change offers, and allowing yourself and your team grace as that change is implemented will enable you to future-proof your business. They say that change is a journey, not a destination, and those who embrace change will be well-positioned to thrive in this evolving landscape that is the modern conveyancing industry.


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