Imagine an office running entirely without paper; no filing systems, no internal office memos, not even receipts and contracts. Just a few computers.
Of course, the office would still have all of the files, memos and contracts you’d expect a business to have - except they’d all be held online in digital format. Welcome to the paperless office.
The concept of the paperless office, although it has gained more traction in recent years as concerns about the environment grow, has existed for nearly 40 years, with one of the first predictions of an office without paper coming in a 1975 Business Week article.
The paperless utopia predicted in the pages of the Business Week all those years ago hasn’t quite come into fruition just yet; whether it’s an unwillingness to change or feeling comfortable with the ‘old way’ of ink and paper, most businesses still rely on paper and their ever-reliable printers on a daily basis.
This is good news for printer manufacturers, for whom businesses are a major revenue stream. Should all of the businesses who use toner cartridges suddenly decide to stop printing one day, it’s fair to say that even companies as large as HP would struggle.
But with the older generation who rely on printers retiring and a new, tech-savvy and environmentally-aware generation taking their place, could the the paperless office soon become a widespread reality?
On the face of it, running a paperless office in the 21st is entirely possible. The tools are more or less all there; internal memos can be distributed via email, files can be shared and stored on the cloud while work-in-progress documents can be shared and edited in real time using tools such as Google Drive. Even note-taking, an oft-forgotten paper-consumer, can be done digitally via Evernote and other such tools.
If anything, a paperless digital office could be more efficient than your standard paper driven office, with employees able to collaborate digitally while also reducing the overhead costs associated with business supplies.
Don’t throw away your office printer just yet, however. If you’ve ever had your computer crash while in the middle of editing a document or been the victim of a hacking attack, then you’re probably well aware of relying too heavily on the internet and technology. Just a few weeks ago, Google Drive went down for an afternoon and hampered the productivity of thousands.
The paperless ideal also falls down when you consider outside communication with clients and other businesses. Not all businesses will possess the technology required to work with digital files, particularly if the technology you use is licensed. Similarly, it could be that a client you’re working with simply doesn’t have the technological skills to work with digital solutions.
Official reports, proposals and pitches - and most other important documents - are generally expected to be presented in a printed format too.
So it seems that the paperless office isn’t quite as close to reality as you might think, although there’s no doubting that digital sharing methods do present an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective alternative to printing.
Therefore, the best approach to think before you print; if the document you’re planning to print out could be shared more efficiently digitally, share it that way instead. For everything else, though, you’re going to need print supplies - check out Cartridge World’s business direct deals for a cost-effective way of keeping your office well-stocked!