Newsflash: The paperless office is a myth. Sure, electronic forms are available and companies are making strides toward digitization, but paper still plays a role in nearly every office around the world. What is it about paper that makes it such an important office asset, even in the 21st century? Let's look at the top 10 reasons to keep paper in the workplace.
1. It's cost-effective: Business leaders mistakenly think that transitioning to an electronic document management system is a fast and affordable process. It's not. In fact, making this leap can be excruciatingly expensive and take a very long time if an organization has a wealth of information to migrate. It's often more cost-effective to stick with paper processes and avoid all-out digitization.
2. It's familiar to all: While millennial staff members are a bit more tech-savvy, the majority of the workforce is still accustomed to using paper. An organization that continues to rely on hard copies will ensure that employees stay comfortable and familiar with their tasks and workflows. No need for training sessions or workshops to teach them the ins and outs of a new software system.
3. It's reliable: Technology has become more stable over the years, but hardware failures and network outages are still a reality for every organization. There's no telling when systems might go offline and leave a business unable to perform key tasks. Paper requires no power source or network connectivity, allowing staff members to remain productive no matter what the situation may present.
4. It's secure: There's no shortage of concern surrounding IT security these days, and organizations are spending billions every year to protect their vital information and back it up in case of a breach. With paper, digital security issues are irrelevant, and companies can be sure that key data is safe from harm as long as employees follow best practices.
"Using paper and print-outs, colleagues know that they have full control of both their information and working practices," stated Mark Jones, founder of Collaboris, in an article for LinkedIn. "They'll also have the security of knowing that they are in possession of physical copies.
5. It's convenient: The simplicity and ease of paper processes can't be denied, and in a workplace cluttered with complex tech, using hard copies is a refreshing return to form as far as convenience is concerned. Employees know exactly how to approach paper-based tasks and continue to use the format for basic needs.
"Moving away from formal/legal documents, we continue to use paper printouts for every-day tasks, such as note taking, filling out forms and collating information," continued Jones in his LinkedIn piece.
6. It's inspiring: It's hard to picture a brainstorming session or a creative workshop without paper, and there's a good reason for this. Paper is the ultimate format for generating inspiration and getting new ideas flowing. From lines of business to the C-suite, paper will always have a place in the creative process.
7. It's professional: Electronic signature solutions may have gained some momentum in recent years, but the overwhelming majority of signatures are completed when pen meets paper. It's simply the more professional and proven way to sign off on key purchases and legal agreements. Executives will agree that "wet signatures" are still the status quo.
8. It's recyclable: When it comes to environmental initiatives, paper is a recycling powerhouse. Companies are going to use paper no matter what, so they might as well support initiatives to recycle and minimize waste. It's not only the socially responsible thing to do, but it's also a smart business move.
"Every ton of paper recycled saves more than 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, and if you measure by weight, more paper is recovered for recycling than plastic, aluminum and glass combined," stated Kathryn Sukalich in a piece for Earth911.
9. It's definitive: Customers love to have hard copies of key files and documents because it offers a sense of assurance that no electronic format can deliver. Whether it's a bank statement or an insurance agreement, there's always going to be a part of the population that prefers paper, and companies had better be prepared with custom forms.
10. It's collaborative: Coworkers may be able to work together in an electronic document application or scroll through notes on a mobile phone, but when it comes to collaboration there's no beating the classic paper format. Paper literally brings people together in a way that no electronic tool can, and in a modern office that is becoming increasingly impersonal, this is a huge benefit for teamwork and morale.