Emirates Airlines Implementing Paperless Concept

Introduction

Nowadays, many emerging paperless technologies are interesting and attractive to business owners and ordinary employees due to their innovative nature, convenience, and efficiency. A possibility to remove much paperwork and use PCs, smartphones or other technological devices only has been discussed worldwide, defining several positive and negative aspects of such transition.

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Many companies have already made their first attempts to move paperless, and Emirates Airlines is an organization where a paperless concept is not new due to its leaders’ intentions to support a “green environment” and increase the productivity of the work at different departments. In this research study, the performance of the Flight Crew Licensing Department of Emirates Airline will be investigated and evaluated to clarify if a transition towards a paperless environment may lead to positive outcomes.

Paperless Concept in the 21st Century

Many people of the 21st century have to work a lot to earn a living, create appropriate conditions, and meet their personal needs and professional goals in regards to the already established rules and norms. One of the tasks people set is a necessity to save their time and succeed in numerous activities. However, all these attempts and steps should be environmentally friendly because the creation of an eco-friendly society is one of the latest global trends (Gupta 2015).

To demonstrate their earth-friendly behaviors, organizations have to think about new technologies and changes with the help of which they can reduce their negative impact on the Earth. An idea of a paperless environment in the workplace is a good chance for companies to demonstrate their intentions to be in touch with a global trend and make employees improve their services.

Millions of paper-based activities are usually observed at administrative departments. People have to develop new guidelines, inform the staff, evaluate applications, and make numerous decisions in written and oral forms. The work of such departments has to be developed at a high level. The example of the Flight Crew Licensing Department will be used in this study to understand if the promotion of a paperless environment may change organizational performance.

The promotion of a paperless concept in the 21st century cannot be neglected or misunderstood. Employees search for new ways of how to improve their work, how to guide their followers, and how to improve their employers. Competitiveness, appropriate retention rates, and a decreased shortage are the expected outcomes in any organization. If a paperless office is one of the possible steps to improve these ratings, it has to be discussed and implemented in all appropriate companies.

Emirates Airline and the Work of Its Flight Crew Licensing Department

Emirates Airlines is a company that chooses every employee carefully regarding their possibilities to learn new material, to use available training programs, and to achieve the goals established. In 2017, Emirates Group’s number of employees has been increased by 11%. About 105,000 people were hired officially, and 8,500 people received Najm awards (a program that is used to recognize the contributions of employees and their commitment to innovation) (The Emirates Group annual report 2017). The company continues building its business using the best commercial and operations foundations that are under the control of more than 20 departments.

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The Flight Crew Licensing Department is one of the existing departments in Emirates Airline with several goals and responsibilities. This department works in the area where the conditions under which pilots (the members of a flight crew) can get their licenses are identified and discussed. In Emirates Airline, this department consists of four people. They are involved in such activities as filling in applications, cooperating with pilots and leading managers of departments, keeping copies of all documents, catering to all pilot population of the company, paper documentation, an explanation and recognition of laws and regulations for pilots, work insurance, and an assessment of pilots’ performance.

Administrators should have appropriate background knowledge and experience to ensure that all licenses given to pilots conform to specific guidelines of the company, as well as certain national and international requirements because Emirates Airline is a global organization with more than 169 nationalities being involved in different activities (The Emirates Group annual report 2017). Pilots of the company may have different background knowledge, and the abilities of pilots should be properly estimated and licensed in the company.

Four administrators of the Flight Crew Licensing Department issue licenses to more than 4,000 pilots of the company. They are free to develop their systems of keeping documents. The only requirement that has to be met is that an employer or a manager with certain authority and powers can obtain the required portion of information, ask for a document, or find a report. The presence of a license is proof that a person can take the position of a pilot and be a legible member of a flight crew. Administrators should also inform pilots about recent changes in the company which may influence their direct duties.

Emirates Airlines appreciates the work of every department, and the duties performed by the Flight Crew Licensing Department are important for the company because they are connected with official permission to fly and be a part of a flight crew. The productivity and the quality of work of this department directly depend on and influence the work of the whole company and its employees.

Indicators to Assess Productivity

Today, many methods can be offered to measure employee productivity regardless of a type of service or product. It is not an easy task to ensure productivity in the workplace, and many companies are challenged by the necessity to identify the indicators that can help assess productivity. In this research study, several important factors will be recognized and developed to evaluate the work of the Flight Crew Licensing Department at Emirates Airlines and understand if a paperless environment may influence the level of administrators’ performance.

First, the consideration of objectives is important. The performance of the department can be investigated only after clear goals of each employee are properly defined and compared with the goals and targets of the company. The second factor is connected to several services offered by the department. It is necessary to identify how often the department introduces its reports and what impact the report of this department has on the development of an annual report of a company.

The next step in assessing performance includes time and cost management. Administrators have to introduce definite numbers in their work, including the time to accept and elaborate on one application of a pilot and costs that may be spent on the department per month. Then, it is necessary to compare the possible costs in case a paperless environment is accepted with time measurements offered. Finally, the profits of the company and profits of the department have to be compared to understand the relation between the quality of the work performed by administrators and the expectations of the leaders of Emirates Airlines.

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Research Goals

In this research paper, several important objectives are developed to meet the main goal that is to provide an answer to such a research question as “How would the transition towards a paperless environment affect the performance of the Flight Crew Licensing Department at Emirates Airline?”. First, it is necessary to develop a clear theoretical background with the help of which main advantages and disadvantages of a paperless office can be identified.

Secondly, the engagement of the department heads is important to obtain permission to cooperate with the staff and conduct research. All potential participants have to be informed about the peculiarities of the study and its worth in terms of the department’s productivity. The next stage is the identification of the indicators which can be used to identify and assess the productivity of the Flight Crew Licensing Department. The connection with a paperless environment may be described as well.

In this study, it is expected to identify all affected parties in case a paperless transition is accepted in the Flight Crew Licensing Department. In addition to administrators, pilots and leading managers may be involved in the discussion and asked to share their feelings and opinions about a paperless office in their workplace. The calculation of potential costs is required to understand if they may be appropriated in regards to long-term benefits that can be observed in the department. Finally, a conclusion, overall recommendations, and the evaluation of a paperless transition have to be developed at the end of the study to prove its importance and urgency for the company and the field of business in general.

Methodology

In this section of a research paper, certain attention will be paid to different aspects of the research methodology, including the chosen philosophy, design, methods, data collection, data analysis, and ethical considerations.

Research Philosophy, Design, and Methods

Research assumptions

To meet the purpose of this research study, it was necessary to identify what had already been known about a paperless environment in administrative units and what the perceptions of the employees of a particular company were. A mixed research approach was chosen and influenced by the works of Bhattacherjee (2012) and Creswell (2014) and their understandings of ontological and epistemological assumptions.

Ontology was used to introduce the way of how a researcher saw the world and the importance of a paperless movement in different administrative sectors. However, it was not enough to mention that a paperless environment could be regarded as one of the possible improvements for an organization. It was also necessary to explain the most appropriate way of how to introduce this concept and study different aspects of penetration into the paperless environment, meaning to determine the epistemology of the research study.

Research philosophies

Regarding the mixed nature of research, two types of philosophies were used, positivism and interpretivism. On the one hand, it was decided to gather the material of a paperless environment, its recent impacts, and outcomes of the work of different departments (positivism). On the other hand, interpretivism played an important role in the research study because of the necessity to find out what people’s feelings and beliefs of a paperless office were.

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The introduction of a paperless environment could be characterized by certain positive and negative attitudes, and the assessment of the department’s productivity, as well as the evaluation of the worth of new electronic systems, should help to make a correct decision. A deductive approach was developed to describe the readiness of one company, Emirates Airlines, and its department that was responsible for flight crew licensing for a new environment where all paper activities could be replaced by electronic options. This approach helped to identify appropriate theories and steps in implementing a paperless environment in different companies (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill 2016). As soon as a theoretical basis was developed, new ideas and steps were introduced regarding the demands and expectations of a company.

Pragmatism was a philosophical basis for research in terms of which a researcher was free to choose new techniques and combine the studies to come to one definite conclusion (Creswell 2014). Pragmatism helped to take the most important issues for each type of discussion and apply them to Emirates Airlines. To support the outcomes of a pragmatic approach, critical realism was chosen to explain if a paperless environment could be dangerous or ineffective for the Flight Crew Licensing Department. It was used to indicate the limitations of the transition process and calculate the potential costs of the movement to a new environment.

Research methods

Two types of research methods were developed in this study. A mixed research approach was chosen due to the possibility to identify multiple insights on a paperless environment and its effects on the employees of Emirates Airlines through the collection of qualitative and quantitative data.

First, it was necessary to gather and analyze the statistical data of the company and create a general picture of the latest achievements and challenges the department faced. Due to the impossibility to find access to the reports of the chosen department, a qualitative method, focus groups, was used to collect the information through semi-structured interviews in three different groups: the administrators of the Flight Crew Licensing Department, several representatives of a flight crew, and several leading managers of Emirates Airline. This method helped to gather preliminary data and clarify research findings of the productivity level of the company.

Qualitative data showed that the department was involved in different activities, and its representatives took responsibilities for licensing pilots of Emirates Airlines. It estimated all structural and cultural changes the company had to undergo in their intentions to remove the paper from their work and introduce new electronic systems for applications, document storage, and coping, and exchange of information. Such an informative background helped to understand if the company and its department were ready for a paperless movement, and what expectations Emirates Airline employees expected to achieve.

The second method of data gathering was a quantitative questionnaire. The goal of this research method was to focus on the emotional and behavioral aspects of a paperless movement and all people who could be involved in this process. Questionnaires had to be sent to the representatives of different departments of the company to define if they were interested in the offered transitions and what attitudes they possessed. This research method was chosen due to its practical issues, easy scalability, and the possibility to gather numerous opinions and answers in a short period.

Finally, several reports of Emirates Airlines and the air transport industry were used to introduce a clear picture of how Emirates Airlines behaved at the global market, what achievements had been made, and which improvements could be offered regarding the current basis of the company.

Participants

Study population

Regarding the nature of this research and the necessity to investigate one particular department of the company, the study population, also known as a research sample, includes the employees of the Flight Crew Licensing Department of Emirates Airlines. It is a probability sampling strategy in terms of which the population has a clear probability of being selected. It is suggested to focus on stratified sampling for choosing people in this research study.

More than 30,000 people are working at Emirates Airlines. In addition to the four administrators of the chosen department, there is a need for new participants the answers to which can help to develop a general image of the work done by the administrators. Therefore, the process of sample stratification is based on a partition of the population into several groups, regarding the departments of the company they belong to. A purposive sample, including pilots and leading managers, is chosen due to the necessity to communicate with the people whose work depends on the results of the work of the Flight Crew Licensing Department.

A simple random sample within each group is made. First, a group of participants is randomly chosen from the pilot department. Second, a group of participants is randomly chosen among the leading managers of the company. The sample is drawn from the population of the company. In addition to the direct participants of the study, the employees of the department under analysis, the people who cooperate with the department were chosen.

Focus groups

A purposive sample was chosen in terms of a qualitative research method, focus groups. There were three focus groups, the representatives of which shared their knowledge and opinions about their work, development, and importance in the company. The first focus group included four people who worked at the Flight Crew Licensing Department of Emirates Airlines.

Their participation in this research was obligatory because those four people were aware of the main tasks and responsibilities of the department and could estimate the role of their activities in the company. Administrators had a direct relation to the work with different papers of the company and focused on the quality of the work offered defining the qualities of flight crew representatives. No inclusion criteria expect the place of work was important for this focus group.

It was also important to involve a certain number of ordinary employees of the company and pilots who had to obtain licenses from the Flight Crew Licensing Department. Pilots (direct representatives of a flight crew) were invited to participate in focus group interviews to evaluate the role of paperwork. To gather various opinions and consider different perspectives, it was necessary to interview pilots from different age groups and experiences. Therefore, ten pilots under 40 years and ten pilots below 40 years were chosen.

A final focus group consisted of five leading managers from different departments of Emirates Airlines. Their opinions about the work of the Flight Crew Licensing Department, their assessments of the quality of the work of their pilots, and their general evaluation of an existing paperwork variety turned out to be effective contributions to the research study.

Questionnaires

A questionnaire was the second integral part of the research study focused on the discussion of a paperless environment at the Flight Crew Licensing Department of Emirates Airlines. Four administrators were provided with a list of close-ended questions with the help of which it was possible to learn what they knew about a new electronic system, how they treated the required paperwork, and if such factors as the age of workers, the level of their awareness of new technologies, and their attitudes to a paperless environment played an important role in organizational performance.

Due to a few numbers of employees in the chosen department, it is appropriate to say that a purposive sample was chosen for this research with all employees being involved. The general mood in the department was identified and evaluated for the development of a discussion section in the study.

Data Collection

Focus group discussions that were organized in the form of semi-structured interviews were conducted face-to-face in the office of the company where the employees had to work regularly (see Appendix A). The date and time had been discussed with the participants beforehand to meet all their personal needs and professional opportunities. The permission from Emirates Airlines to conduct research was obtained with all directions, goals, and instructions being specified.

The participants were informed about the peculiarities of the research study and their roles in the results. They discussed their attitudes to a paperless concept in the workplace, their awareness of new requirements, and their readiness to participate in transitions. It was also expected to get to know what different departments thought about the changes in one particular department but not in the whole company.

Each participant was provided with as much time as they needed to answer the questions and think about their suggestions. Three different days were devoted to the collection of this type of information because the representatives of three focus groups were able to cooperate regarding their schedules. The average time of interviews was about 1-2 hours. Each interview began with the same question: “Have you ever heard about the necessity to move to a paperless environment in the workplace?”. All participants discussed their positions and attitudes and shared different opinions.

At the end of focus group discussions, four administrators of the Flight Crew Licensing Department were informed about a questionnaire being sent them via e-mail in the next 24 hours. Questionnaires consisted of 13 close-ended questions with 3-4 possible answers (see Appendix B). The participants were informed that there were no right or wrong questions. The goal was not to check their level of knowledge but to gather their opinions and attitudes being possible categorized with the help of the answers offered. There was also a section “Your comments” in several questions so that the participants could add their thoughts or ideas about different questions.

Ethical Considerations

The study was approved by the research ethics committee. Permission to conduct the research study and cooperate with different employees was obtained from the company as well. First, a leader of Emirates Airline was informed about the possibility of such research and asked to allow research activities. Then, initial contact with the employees occurred through a direct visit to the company and communication with all potential participants.

A leading manager provided information about all four employees at the Flight Crew Licensing Department who had to cater more than 4000 pilots annually. Four administrators gave their agreement to participate in the study. Also, 20 pilots and 5 leading managers were invited for focus group discussions. Six pilots refused to participate because of personal issues, but they suggested other employees replacing them in the study. All 5 chosen leaders gave their positive answers and participated in all discussions.

Taking into consideration the actual number of employees at the Flight Crew Licensing Department, the participants realized the impossibility of anonymity and confidentiality of their personal information. Still, it was discussed that no names and positions were given. Therefore, it was decided to introduce them as Administrator 1, Administrator 2, Administrator 3, and Administrator 4. Leading managers and pilots wanted to stay anonymous, and their names were not mentioned in the study.

Data Analysis

Focus groups

All focus group discussions were audio-taped, and the participants had been informed about this decision beforehand. Then, it was necessary to transcribe all interviews. Because discussions were in Arabic, translation of the material was required. In general, transcribed and translated interviews of focus group discussions were used for the analysis. There were read and re-read to gain the required insight and underline the most crucial aspects of the discussion. A content analysis was used to interpret the results and identify the common themes. Three figural themes were developed and supported by direct quotations taken from interviews. A semantical content analysis was chosen to classify the signs in regards to their meanings and importance in the discussion of a paperless environment in the chosen workplace.

Questionnaires

Four participants had to answer 20 questions in a questionnaire form. The majority of questions had such possible answers as “Agree”, “Neither agree nor disagree”, and “Disagree”. These answers were analyzed with the help of a spreadsheet developed by a researcher. In case the answers could be approved with respondents’ comments, the identification of the main points, and their representation in a separate table was given.

Reports

The information taken from the reports was analyzed in terms of recent achievements and improvements observed in the company. The information about the number of pilots and their licenses, as well as the comparison of the company’s impact on the air transport industry, was introduced through the content analysis and an automatic search using such keywords as “pilot”, “Emirates Airline”, and “license”.

Validity

Validity is a type of measurement in terms of which the relevance of the chosen concept is discussed in qualitative or quantitative research (Bhattacherjee 2012). There are two main types of validity: internal (an intended measurement) and external (the application of the findings to a wider population). The current study was measured by such concepts as “performance” and “attitudes to transition” in a particular department.

The researcher ensured the validity by reviewing available literature and focusing on the opinions of the participants about the importance of organizational change and the worth of a paperless office in the department. Also, the study can be defined as valid due to real communication with Emirates Airlines workers and the recognition of their knowledge of and experience in the idea of moving paperless.

Reliability

Reliability is a type of measurement that aims at describing how consistent the chosen measurement can be in case of its repetition (Bhattacherjee 2012). The researcher had to ensure that similar results could be observed in case the same questionnaire or interviews were offered to a similar sample. In this study, the reliability could be proved by the possibility to use another company and its license department to find out what its employees think about the idea of moving paperless and the changes in performance and cooperation with other departments. The reliability was proved by simple still informative questions and the possibility to answer these questions using personal knowledge and experience but not certain theories and standards.

Findings

Focus Group Results

The results of focus group interviews provided the researcher with enough qualitative data to develop a discussion about the background knowledge of the paperless movement and employees’ readiness for a paperless environment in their workplace. According to the Emirates Group Annual Report (2017), there are more than 35,000 employees who can use about 47,000 online training modules and simulations, meaning that new technologies have been already introduced to Emirates Airline workers.

On the global arena, Emirates Airline is included in the list of the top 10 groups regarding their revenue, net profit, and RPK (revenue passenger kilometers), meaning that the company remains to be competitive and effective while using the newest technologies and ideas (Annual analyses of the EU air transport market 2016). Focus group interviews with three different groups of people who work at Emirates Airlines showed that many people were aware of the possibility of a paperless environment in their workplace and were ready to support it.

The answers of the participants were categorized into three main groups: “Aware”, “Unaware”, and “Heard but”. Regarding the fact that all 29 participants had to answer the question “Have you ever heard about the necessity to move to a paperless environment in the workplace?”, the offered classification may be explained in the following way. For example, three out of four administrators of the Flight Crew Licensing Department said that they were aware of the idea of moving paperless, and only one worker admitted that they “heard, but does not think this idea could be appropriate for our department or could influence our organizational performance”.

Pilots’ opinions were divided as well because 64% of the respondents declared their awareness of a paperless environment, saying that “Yes, this idea has already being implemented in several companies”, 21% of the pilots stated that they heard about the possibility of this idea, but “do not know if it is applicable for our company”, or “do not want to change something in the company at this moment”, or “believe that a paperless movement can easily worsen the level of current organizational performance”, and 15% of the answers proved the fact that a paperless office was an unknown topic for some employees.

The five leading managers of the company chosen different positions as well in their intentions to support or oppose a paperless movement in the Flight Crew Licensing Department. Two responses were definite and similar: “I do believe that a paperless office is what the department is in need for”. One manager chose the position not to promote a paperless environment in the company, saying that “it is impossible to remove the paper from all office work, and a paperless office is a useless step in the company”.

Finally, two managers believed in the possibility of a paperless movement in the office. Still, they were not confident if the department under discussion was ready for such transition, explaining that “a paperless movement requires many steps being taken at the same time” or “it is not to support the idea of moving paperless, but it is necessary to explain its importance to the employees”.

The administrators of the Flight Crew Licensing Department believed that a paperless transition could not be avoided or neglected due to the scope of the work Emirates Airlines completed annually. When questioned about their readiness for a paperless environment, 93% of the participants from all groups gave their positive answers, using such words as “I have already tried to remove all paper from my home and replace it with new technologies” or “our company is an example of how new technologies can improve organizational performance”.

Only two people put their readiness under a question because they prefer to keep old traditions, use the materials that had already been available to the company, and focus on the development and improvement of employees’ skills and knowledge. For example, one participant admitted that “I cannot even imagine this life without paper because it is a convenient thing that is available to everyone”. Regarding such responses and attitudes to the idea of moving paperless in the Flight Crew Licensing Department, two categories of answers may be offered: “For” and “Against”.

In general, all interviews were developed in a friendly environment with all employees being eager to share their positive attitudes into a paperless environment.

Questionnaire Results

The questionnaires that were offered to the administrative workers of the Flight Crew Licensing Department at Emirates Airlines proved that the position of the researcher and personal attitudes of employees to a paperless environment in their workplace had much in common. Four participants gave their “Agree” answers to 80% of all questions (the first answer was not included because it aimed at identifying participants’ age group). The results of the questionnaires are described in Table A.

An option to leave comments after several answers were positively accepted by all participants because they were eager to explain their answers and prove that their positions and attitudes were supportive of a paperless environment in Emirates Airline. The participants stated that their readiness depended considerably on their attitudes to new technologies. Only one of the participants was not confident in the necessity of such an environment because of their personal unwillingness to store everything in electronic forms and neglect the worth of paper documents in business.

Questionnaire Results.
Table A: Questionnaire Results.

Figural Themes

Taking into consideration the answers obtained from focus group interviews and questionnaires, three themes were developed and discussed in terms of this research study.

Productivity of the Flight Crew Licensing Department before and after moving paperless.

Online reports did not show a clear picture of the work of the Flight Crew Licensing Department. However, the interviews with different focus groups and questionnaires helped to clarify that this department had to work with several administrative issues and deal with numerous documents to prove the quality of pilots’ work and their readiness to take responsibility for each decision made. The idea of moving paperless is characterized by several positive expectations and improvements because approximately 93% of all participants believed that a paperless office was a possibility for Emirates Airlines to save its time and money and focus on the development of personal skills instead of spending hours filling in written reports.

For example, in Question 6, “A paperless environment is a step forward to the success of administrative services in Emirates Airline”, all four participants give their “Agree” answers and prove the fact that the company has to consider a paperless movement as one of the possible options to improve the level of performance of one of its departments. The productivity of the department was high before the transition, and it is expected to increase it through a paperless environment.

When the administrators were asked about the possibility to change productivity and performance levels within a paperless office, their answers showed that there were enough resources, knowledge, and experience to use a paperless option as a solution for the department, stating that “it is easy to move paperless in case all departments follow the same way” or “a paperless movement can help to achieve the results which were impossible before”.

A paperless environment is a step forward in administrative services

Administrative services were characterized by several reports and written work that had to be done regularly by the representatives of the department as well as by pilots who had to get their licenses, apply for new services, and get approvals to complete different functions in the company. A paperless environment was proved as a step forward in the improvement of all administrative services and the option in terms of which people could save their time, choose appropriate options, and use online services from different parts of the world (regarding the nature of activities all pilots are involved in). Four administrators’ “Agree” replies to the ninth question prove that the department can achieve certain improvements in keeping documents and sharing copies.

Examples of other companies are not enough to promote a paperless environment

Participants proved that to observe the examples of other companies was not enough for Emirates Airline to succeed in a paperless transition. Though certain background knowledge was offered, it was hard for ordinary people to use it without any training and explanations. Four “Agree” responses to the fifth question in a questionnaire proved that the examples helped the administrators to conclude that a paperless environment could help the company.

However, these examples were not enough for the department to understand what kind of work had to be done and what administrative and management steps should be taken to promote a paperless environment. The interviews’ replies like “our company should choose its way for developing a paperless movement” or “the examples may vary, and our company should choose the only right way” proved that the examples should not be enough for the department. Personal experience is appreciated. People realized that change could be required. However, they did not see a plan that could be used in a certain company.

Pros and Cons of a Paperless Environment at the Flight Crew Licensing Department

Communication with different employees helped to create a list of positive and negative aspects of a paperless environment. The results of data gathering are introduced in Table B.

Table B: Pros and Cons of a Paperless Environment.

Pros Cons
Convenient Automatic work
Less space Human mistakes
Less time Bugs and viruses
Easy to use Importance of knowledge
Less money on paper More money on technologies

The employees of the Flight Crew Licensing Department believed that a paperless transition was an obligatory task, but it was also necessary to be prepared for certain challenges and complications. For example, additional knowledge and new practices could cause misunderstandings and confusion among employees. Work with electronic systems had to be protected against different viruses, malware, and bugs.

Additional costs were required to pay for new technologies and services. However, such opportunities as the possibility to save time, space, and money on paper, as well as easiness and convenience in usage attracted employees’ attention and made them believe that paperless benefits could improve an administrative performance at the Flight Crew Licensing Department of Emirates Airline.

Conclusion

The readiness of the Flight Crew Licensing Department to Move Paperless

Taking into consideration the results of the investigation and communication with the administrators who work at the Flight Crew Licensing Department and the literature review developed for this study, it is possible to say that several people are ready to work in a paperless environment. There are many guidelines and explanations on how to succeed in a paperless transition to save cost and time (Chando & Miller n.d.). Employees admitted that they could not stop using the newest technologies in their everyday life, and the idea to use similar technologies in their workplace was not as bad and terrifying as it would seem to be.

The department under discussion consists of four people who take responsibility for more than 4000 pilots of the company. The evaluation of the emotional aspects of their work and personal attitudes to a paperless movement can be defined as positive. Employees are ready to work paperless. The only requirement that could be raised is the necessity of additional training and knowledge of new technologies and electronic systems. Still, the majority of employees believe that practice and experience can be improved with time as soon as they start working under new conditions.

Suggestions to Accomplish Transition towards a Paperless Environment

In general, Emirates Airlines believes in the importance of a paperless environment. At the beginning of the 2010s, the company adopted several paperless procedures at different departments and observed that, in some situations, it was impossible to avoid paper documents (Balancing our performance 2012). Therefore, it is suggested not to hurry up and not to impose the idea of a paperless environment for employees. Still, deadlines are important to demonstrate the employees the frameworks of their activities.

Administrators have already come to the conclusion that paperless systems aim at facilitating different working aspects and processes when it is necessary to share information, copy the material, store documentation, or find one particular paper (Goodwin 2014). Small but confident steps have to be taken in the department. The Flight Crew Licensing administrators complete a serious portion of work at Emirates Airlines. Their results define the quality of work of a flight crew.

Finally, the discussion of technical aspects is required. A paperless environment means the creation of new electronic systems and platforms in terms of which people can share their experience, knowledge, and needs. Technology performance of the 21st century is unpredictable, and license administrators should learn the main techniques and requirements to demonstrate good results at work (Nagy et al. 2013). A new person may be hired to train administrators and other employees, or managers can support the implementation process using available resources and knowledge.

Advantages of Launching a Paperless Environment

A paperless environment is characterized by several positive aspects. A possibility to save trees and support a green environment that is one of the directions of Emirates Airlines is expected (Gupta 2015). Not all companies are ready to step aside from ordinary norms and services to protect the environment and offer appropriate working conditions for every employee at the same time. Emirates Airlines can move a paperless idea in each department separately considering the professional and personal needs of the staff.

Administrators believe that they can save their time filling in applications and other documents using an electronic system. The number of lost or hard-to-find documents can be reduced, and all information may be available in a short period. Electronic safety and security are the opportunities that attract administrators’ attention. There is no need to find new places where all information can be stored. It is enough to have one properly administrated PC per one employee and make sure that it is checked for viruses or other malware regularly to avoid unexpected losses or problems.

A quick response to all employees’ applications, the flexibility of work, productivity, and compliance are the advantages for the department where a paperless environment is supported (Goodwin 2014). Administrators can develop a new system where information about each department and every crew member can be available to the company is a serious step forward to the development of professional and trustful relations and the creation of a team of professional managers, pilots, stewards, and other Emirates Airline workers.

Disadvantages of a Paperless Environment

The results of the study prove that not all people are usually ready to remove a paper-based environment and start using electronic systems without considerable challenges and problems. For example, there is a psychological factor in terms of which people cannot change their behavioral patterns and stop using paper in a short period (Gupta 2015). There is such word as “habit”, and not all administrators are ready to forget about its importance in the workplace.

The age of administrators is an important factor because it was proved that young people find technology powerful enough to replace other patterns in the workplace. Older employees put such issues as knowledge, experience, and communication in the first place. To make a transition to a paperless environment less harmful and troublesome for administrators of the Flight Crew License Department, time, explanations, and support are required.

Potential Costs of a New Electronic System of Licensing

Regarding the number of administrators in the department, the potential costs of a new electronic system of licensing should not be too high. First, new computers and all accessories per one administrator may cost approximately 5,000.00 AED. There are four employees in the department. 20,000.00 AED for one significant improvement may be required. Also, training courses and psychological support for administrators can be offered to cover the possibility of negative outcomes and unexplainable challenges.

Regular improvements and control of a new electronic system may be a part of the whole company’s system check or a separate service per quarter. Overall profits of Emirates Airlines are calculated in more than AED 2.5 billion (The Emirates Group annual report 2017). The price of a paperless environment for one department is not that high and can be paid off regarding such benefits as the support of a green environment, safe storage, and convenience in using the system.

Study Limitations

In this study, the sample size may be view as a limitation because the number of direct participants in both methods is four administrators. However, regarding the purpose of this research, the opinions and attitudes of these four employees should be enough. Another important aspect is the recognition of emotional aspects and behavioral patterns only. Though technology issues were mentioned in the study, they were not properly discussed. Finally, pilots’ opinions and readiness to work within an electronic system were considered. Still, they were not used to develop recommendations and cost calculations in the study.

Further Research

It is expected to develop a similar project and include as many employees of Emirates Airlines as possible. Such an approach can be helpful in terms of understanding a general mood of employees to a paperless environment, recognize their main challenges in accepting a paperless concept in the workplace, and understand what kind of support may be required. At this moment, Emirates Airlines hires people of different ages and both genders. This variety can be used to gather different opinions, background knowledge, and practices. Newest technologies in the workplace can be a benefit for one employee and a challenge for many other workers. The task of future research is to estimate an overall readiness for a paperless transition.

General Outcomes

The performance of the Flight Crew Licensing Department at Emirates Airline has high ratings at this moment. However, this department has undergone significant improvements and change a long time ago. To support the competitiveness of the company and meet the requirements based on fast technological progress, the administrators of the chosen department have to promote innovation and technological improvements regularly. Though Emirates Airlines respects traditions and history, progress and innovation are two crucial aspects of the work of this organization.

The transition towards a paperless environment may affect the administrators of the department, as well as the level of their performance in Emirates Airlines. In the beginning, the change process may cause certain challenges and uncertainties because the examples of other companies and the experiences of other people are not enough for one particular company to succeed in transformations. However, with time and appropriate training, the department can achieve considerable benefits of a paperless environment in the workplace. Such improvements as time safety, cost-effectiveness, and an available scope of the work are the main expected contributions to the administrative services and the improvement of licensing options for pilots at Emirates Airlines.

In general, the movement to a paperless environment can be defined as a pure positive operation because every change is usually characterized by both positive and negative issues. The situation at Emirates Airlines and the work of the Flight Crew Licensing Department prove employees’ readiness for such type of shift with a few supportive decisions being given to leading managers of the company.

Reference List

Annual analyses of the EU air transport market. 2016. Web.

Balancing our performance: the Emirates Group 2011-2012 environmental report 2012. Web.

Bhattacherjee, A 2012, Social science research: principles, methods, and practices. Web.

Chando, J & Miller, J n.d., The administrator’s guide to going paperless. Web.

Creswell, JW 2014, Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, 4th edn, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA.

The Emirates Group annual report. 2017. Web.

Goodwin, G 2014, 6 benefits of moving to a paperless manufacturing environmentWeb.

Gupta, S 2015, ‘Paperless society – from vision to fulfilment’, Global Journal of Enterprise Information System, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 45-53.

Nagy, B, Farmer, JD, Bui, QM & Trancik, JE 2013, ‘Statistical basis for predicting technological progress’, PloS, vol. 8, no. 2. Web.

Saunders, MNK, Lewis, P & Thornhill, A 2016, Research methods for business students, 7th edn, Pearson, Harlow.

Appendix

Appendix A: Focus Group Interview Questions

Questions for Focus Group One: Flight Crew Licensing Department Employees

  1. 1. Have you ever heard about the necessity to move to a paperless environment in the workplace?
  2. 2. Do you think that your department can successfully exist in the workplace where a paperless transition movement is supported?
  3. 3. Is the company Emirates Airline ready for potential costs, including time and money?
  4. 4. May people not support the idea of moving paperless in the company?
  5. 5. What changes should be expected while implementing a paperless transition?
  6. 6. Are you personally interested in implementing changes connected with a paperless environment in the department?
  7. 7. How will paperless changes affect the effectiveness of the department procedures?
  8. 8. Can Emirates Airline benefit with an idea of removing paper from the workplace?
  9. 9. Do you believe that the numbers given in the reports depict a true situation in the company?
  10. 10. Share your vision for the future of paperless Emirates Airlines.

Questions for Focus Group Two: Pilots

  1. 1. Have you ever heard about the necessity to move to a paperless environment in the workplace?
  2. 2. Do you believe that a paperless environment may facilitate an application process?
  3. 3. If you had a chance, what type of the environment you would prefer: paper-based or paperless?
  4. 4. What do you think about the readiness of the Flight Crew Licensing Department’s readiness for such implementation?
  5. 5. Are you personally ready for such changes or interested in such environment?

Questions for Focus Group Three: Leading Managers

  1. 1. Have you ever heard about the necessity to move to a paperless environment in the workplace?
  2. 2. Do you think the company and the Flight Crew Licensing Department in particular ready for a movement to a paperless environment?
  3. 3. Would you like to work in the paper-based or paperless workplace?
  4. 4. What can Emirates Airline get with a paperless environment?
  5. 5. What is your personal attitude to a paperless workplace in Emirates Airline?

Appendix B: Questionnaires for the Flight Crew Licensing Department Administrators

  1. What is your age group?
    1. 15-25
    2. 26-35
    3. 36-45
    4. 46>
  2. The usage of new technologies is an integral part of your everyday life
    1. Agree
    2. Neither agree nor disagree
    3. Disagree
  3. Every person should learn how to use the newest technologies in business and routine life
    1. Agree
    2. Neither agree nor disagree
    3. Disagree
    4. Your Comments:
  4. Your level of knowledge about a paperless environment is enough to believe in the effectiveness of this idea for the Flight Crew Licensing Department
    1. Agree
    2. Neither agree nor disagree
    3. Disagree
    4. Your Comments:
  5. Many companies have already supported the transition and moved from a paper-based to paperless environment
    1. Agree
    2. Neither agree nor disagree
    3. Disagree
    4. Your Comments:
  6. A paperless environment is a step forward to the success of administrative services in Emirates Airline
    1. Agree
    2. Neither agree nor disagree
    3. Disagree
  7. Not all employees and managers are ready for a paperless environment in the company
    1. Agree
    2. Neither agree nor disagree
    3. Disagree
    4. Your Comments:
  8. Emirates Airline has (or may hire) enough experts to support the movement to a paperless office
    1. Agree
    2. Neither agree nor disagree
    3. Disagree
  9. It is easier and safer to keep and make copies of documents in electronic forms in comparison to the necessity to save paper documents
    1. Agree
    2. Neither agree nor disagree
    3. Disagree
  10. Emirates Airlines (the Flight Crew Licensing Department) has a good plan for the implementation of a paperless office
    1. Agree
    2. Neither agree nor disagree
    3. Disagree
    4. Your Comments:
  11. Knowledge management is important for Emirates Airlines, and a paperless environment facilitates this process
    1. Agree
    2. Neither agree nor disagree
    3. Disagree
    4. Your Comments:
  12. A paperless environment is one of the best innovations that can be offered to Emirates Airline
    1. Agree.
    2. Neither agree nor disagree.
    3. Disagree.
    4. Your Comments:
  13. You are ready to participate in an implementation process and the promotion of a paperless environment in Emirate Airlines
    1. Agree.
    2. Neither agree nor disagree.
    3. Disagree.
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