The paper free office concept came from the 1980s and 90s when the information age was taking off in a very big way with the introduction of the Internet and email as forms of communication. This led to the philosophy that offices could get away with using a lot less paper because more information was stored on computers rather than, for example, in physical personal address books.

Unfortunately, It would seem to me that this concept is dieing as I have seen in most offices that I have visited and worked in. My suggested reasons for this are as follows:

  • Text is a lot easier to read on paper than it is on a computer screen mainly due to the low resolution of type on screen compared to the possible infinite resolution of the ink as a real object on a piece of paper
  • Official documents are still required to be printed, as changing a printed document is harder than changing one stored electronically.
  • Office workers still like to be able to have pieces of paper with phone numbers, notes and appointments on view all the time so they don’t forget. This is generally in the form of post-it notes.
  • Writing something down on a piece of paper is generally quicker than typing out something on a keyboard which is relatively slow compared to handwriting for the average office worker (Apart from PAs who can touch type).

Computer companies around the world need to start developing electronic products that improve upon the current available range in order to reduce the destruction of the rainforest. Focussing on clearer, higher resolution screens and better input methods.

Unless a drastic change occurs in the way that almost everyone does business, the paperless office can never become a reality. Even with computers encroaching on every facet of our lives, we are as reliant on paper now as ever before. In the office where I work, the use of computers has increased, but we are using the computers to produce even more paper, and can anyone show me an office without a photocopier?

Important documents must be signed, files containing many different types of information (ie. not all computer printouts) must be stored, and receipts for Bank and ordinary cheques have to be filed. To transfer that sort of information to computer (and to make it a standard procedure) takes much more time, effort, and money (we don't have a scanner here, and we don't need one) than the end result justifies.

Also, even though I'm more of a pyro than a hacker, I'd still consider it easier to lose a network full of data than to destroy documents in fireproof safes housed in an office.

00100 tells me that they used to work at a company that specialised in digitising documents from paper. Even though the amount of paper that their clients had to keep theoretically diminished, the scanning room had more paper in it than the rest of the building.

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