The paperless office has been deemed inevitable over the last 20 years. So why, despite these predictions, have offices stubbornly stood still? Several factors contribute to the staying power of paper-based workplaces, but changing consumer attitudes suggest that offices could finally be ready to enter the digital age.
What Has Made The Paperless Office Possible?
Prior to the following innovations, paperless offices were simply nice ideas no one had the mean to implement. These developments provided the tools and technology needed to bring the paperless office from the planning page into reality.
- The growth of cloud computing
- The increased adoption of shared document formats like PDF
- The rise of remote work arrangements
Declining Paper Usage
In addition to technological progress, consumers are more committed than ever to reducing their paper usage. Among respondents of a September 2011 survey:
Do you consider reducing your paper consumption important for environmental reasons?
29% Very Important
27% Somewhat Important
12% Not Important
Many of the same respondents plan to use less paper in the next 5-10 years.
44% Half the amount of paper
26% Quarter of the amount of paper
24% same amount of paper
7% No paper at all
Where The Cuts Will Be Made
People have pledged to cut down on paper use before. What makes today different is that people have committed to cutting back in specific areas:
60.1% Will reduce use of physical mail
48% Will reduce use of newspapers
47.8% Will reduce use of printing paper
45.9% Will reduce use of magazines
44.5% Will reduce used of paper bags
37.6% Will reduce use of forms, contracts and documents
31.6% Will reduce use of books
9.2% Will reuse use of something other
6.1% Will reduce use of toilet paper
Thanks to changing consumer attitudes and technology that makes digital work easier, America’s offices finally appear ready to go paperless.