The paperless office has been a topic of debate for over 20 years. But look around the average office and one still sees loads of paper being printed and aimlessly filed.
Is the paperless office merely a myth or is there some credence to the claim that offices will soon be paperless?
In this short article we discuss some of the key trends affecting paper use and analyse data that may hold some insight into the future of the paperless office.
Data from the US shows that office workers have been using less paper since 2001. The annual rate of decline (0.9 per cent) is unimpressive in itself, but striking when compared to the growth rate of 5.7 per cent observed from 1985 to 1999
At closer inspection, what might be skewing the data is the recent popularity in duplex printing which has helped many organizations halve the amount of paper used but not affected the rate of printing.
Nonetheless, the explanation for the reduction seems to be technological and sociological: younger workers, who have grown up with electronic communication, feel less need to print documents than their older colleagues.
Moreover, technological advances like paperless meeting software, paper document scanning and file digitization, are fast growing in popularity.
Although, studies show that a high percentage of business users still prefer to read paper documents, most mobile workers are reporting a lack of desire or capability to print from their mobile devices. With mobile devices improving rapidly and becoming more prevalent, it stands to reason that there will simply be fewer reasons to print in the future.
In addition, the rise in awareness of environmental impacts is resulting in a reduction of paper use.
It is my prediction that in the next decade we will see a significant reduction in paper use as younger generations mature into the workplace and new technologies – smart phones, tablets etc become entrenched.
Jess has spent years travelling the world full-time. Nothing else comes close to the reaches of this emotive activity...