The promise of a paperless office has existed for years. Unfortunately, most offices must still use paper regularly. Is the paperless office just a pipe dream that we will not attain? In a nutshell, no. We are constantly moving toward paperless offices, but it’s just taking us considerably longer than we had expected.
The advantages of paper
There’s a reason why paper hasn’t yet disappeared from most offices: It is useful. Employees at even the greenest of offices—those workspaces most dedicated to reducing the level of paper they consume—have uses for paper. Paper is portable. Employees can easily scrawl notes on it. They can fold it up and slip it into their wallets or shirt pockets. Many employees prefer proofreading important documents in hard-copy form. There is something about proofreading a document on the computer screen that causes some employees to miss important errors or typos.
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 communication is done via email or Skype instead of 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 workplace.
Clearly the future of the workplace is using less and less paper, but will it ever be absolutely paperless? Will notepads and sticky notes go the way of the milkman? Perhaps. Let’s look at the milkman: some still prefer to get their milk hand-delivered to their homes, but the majority of us just pop out to the store and pick some up when we need it.
Paper will likely end up exactly the same. As we use business solutions such as the cloud, smartphones, and computers for invoicing, writing and spreadsheets, there will still be people that prefer the physical feel of pen and paper.