The promise of a paperless office has been around for years. Unfortunately, most offices must still use paper on a regular basis. Is the paperless office just a pipe dream that we will not attain? In a nutshell, no. We’re constantly moving toward paperless offices, but it’s just taking us a lot longer than we had expected.
The advantages of paper
There’s a reason why paper hasn’t yet vanished from most offices: It’s useful. Employees at even the greenest of offices—those workspaces most dedicated to lowering the amount 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’s something about proofreading a document on the computer screen that causes some employees to miss important errors or typos.
Less paper than ever
Paper is starting to become less and less important. Many of our past paper processes are now able to be performed on a computer. Team communication is dealt with via email. Even instant messaging has taken the place of paper notes to coworkers. Smartphones and tablets have taken over the need for a physical calendar/schedule system. If you take a look back at how far business has come in the past decade, it’s pretty clear that paper, while not fully obsolete, is no longer king.
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.