We've been hearing about the paperless office for what seems like years now, yet most office buildings today still depend upon fax machines, copiers, and forests worth of paper documents. Is the paperless office like the personal jet pack? Long promised but never delivered? The simple answer? No. The world is still moving toward paperless offices. It is merely taking longer than some would like.
The advantages of paper
As nice as it would be to have everything in digital format, paper continues to be useful. The main reason it’s still around is that paper is portable. It is simple to scribble a note and slip it into your pocket. Even the most eco-friendly offices still find uses for paper. If you’re an editor, you know how hard it is to edit a digital copy. Lots of people prefer to proofread important documents in hard-copy format. Frequently it's easier to spot mistakes when the file is printed out.
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 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 office.
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? Maybe. 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 want it.
Paper will likely end up exactly the same. As we use business solutions like the cloud, smartphones, and computers for invoicing, writing and spreadsheets, there will still be those who prefer the physical feel of pen and paper.