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Is the thought of a true paperless office just a pipe dream?

Business Technology | January 4, 2012

The promise of a paperless office has existed for years. Unfortunately, most offices must still use paper frequently. Is the paperless office just a pipe dream that we will never achieve?  In a nutshell, no. We’re constantly moving toward paperless offices, but it’s just taking us a lot longer than we had hoped.

The advantages of paper

Digital copies of documents and communications are nice, but paper continues to be useful in many cases. Even those who work at the most eco-friendly offices, with reduced paper use policies, find a need for paper. Paper can be extremely portable and quick. You can quickly jot down a telephone number on a sticky note and slip it in your pocket or leave your cubicle neighbor a quick note stating the boss stopped by. If you’re responsible for going over important documents prior to release, hard copy editing is often much easier than editing on a computer screen. Sometimes it is easier to spot small typos on a physical copy.

Less paper than ever

Paper isn’t disappearing, it is becoming steadily less important. While we still need paper for certain tasks,  most offices are using less paper than ever before. Most writing is completed on a word-processor and correspondence is done via email or Skype rather than fax or letters. Meeting notes, company schedules, and whole marketing campaigns are stored digitally on our computers and smartphones.  So while paper is not yet obsolete, the sticky note is no longer king of the office.

The future

It’s obvious that offices of the future will rely on less paper than even we do now, but will paper ever really go the way of the milkman? Maybe. Some people still prefer having their milk delivered from a local dairy but most are content to pick it up from the store when they need it.

Paper will most likely go the same route and it will be a personal preference as to how much paper is consumed in the office. As many of our business processes rely on digital solutions, there will always be a select few who prefer good old-fashioned pen and paper.


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