Will the paperless office ever be a reality?

Ever since the first computer was installed in an office, there was a boss promoting a ‘paperless environment’ where the company would save millions on not printing out every document. In reality, this has yet to come to pass, but are we at the dawn of the truly paperless office?

What do we still print out?
Emails fly around offices quicker than paper memos ever did. You can sit at your desk and have an inbox full of unopened mail before you have even had your coffee. The good news is that at least they are not being printed out. The email has removed the need to print out letters, memos and invoices but there are some things which just seem to always be printed out. Receipts are the chief culprit; when workers file their expenses, they always seem to print out a ream of receipts to back up their claim.

Can everything be done online?
If you watch any advert or listen to any computer sales pitch, you will wonder why we ever need to speak to each other. Everything in the world is online now, so why isn’t the entire business? The truth is that most businesses still have printing needs. There are times when looking at the screen doesn’t help to differentiate the options available to the customers. We have all been sat at the end of the day, with an Excel spreadsheet in front of us and knowing that we can’t deal with it on the screen. It makes no sense, but printing it out and being able to highlight numbers by hand, makes the whole process easier.

What do we still need to store?
It’s not just tired eyes that need information printed out, most companies have a dedicated paper-based back-up of important files. To make one of these all you need is to purchase some cheap box files, its that simple! These are important in case everything electronic fails and the company needs to start all over.

It’s not just the fail safe systems that store paper. When a client walks into the office and you are able to pull their file off the shelf and present them with a portfolio of new ideas, it creates the right impression. It shows that you have actually thought about them as individuals and not just copy and pasted the same information from a previous client. In this case, the appearance of printouts really do make the difference.

Do you see the advent of a new work environment coming over the horizon or are we going to be producing paper documents forever in the office? There seems that there are just some files which do not lend themselves to being studied on a screen and need to be printed out. Then there are the thousands of emails, which we rejoice are not being printed out. It seems that a good office is a mix between the two.