More than ever, today's employees know what they want. When it comes to in-office technology, collaborative processes and even perks and benefits, the modern workforce has a clear vision in mind, and individuals are vocal about their preferences. So, when employees say that they accomplish more with paper, executive leaders had better listen up and deliver. 

What is it about paper-based operations that appeals to the current workforce, especially in light of the huge technological advancements that have occurred over the past two decades? Upper-level decision-makers should understand what is compelling their staff members to stick with paper, and know when to hold off on cutting-edge tech. Here's a look at the current lay of the land.

The modern appeal of paper
Today's workers have a huge range of options when it comes to creating, sharing, storing, editing and even collaborating on documents. Even within the past five years, the sheer variety of digital document management tools has been driven up by unique business use cases and devices. But paper still plays a key role in the modern office, according to Beta News.

Investigating the phenomenon of paper's place in the digital world, the news source explored findings from Epson Europe, which surveyed over 3,600 employees across the continent. Here's a look at what respondents had to say about paper in the workplace:

  • 64 percent prefer brochures and reports to be in hard copy format
  • 53 percent find paper documents easier to share with coworkers
  • 44 percent can read and process information better on paper
  • 41 percent would rather edit paper documents than digital files

On the topic of the paperless office, the response of the surveyed employees was surprising. Epson Europe found that 83 percent of staff members believe that this lofty ideal is not a realistic goal, and 86 percent of employees in the U.K. stated that removing paper from the workplace would reduce their daily productivity. The people have spoken, and they like their paper.

Of course, digital tools can deliver huge benefits when incorporated at the right place and time, but Epson Europe SVP Rob Clark reminded readers that paper is only a piece of the puzzle. Organizations shouldn't hesitate to try new technologies, but must also remember that paper is a foundational element in office processes regardless of IT advancement. 

"People collaborate effectively for many tasks digitally; for many others, a printed page is key, or an interactive whiteboard, an augmented reality headset or an in-person huddle," explained Clark, according to Beta News. 

Focus on productivity, not flash
The major takeaway from the Epson Europe report was not that paper still rules the workplace, but that there is an appropriate document format for any given office task. Business leaders should adopt the mindset that productivity is the top priority, not the implementation of trendy gadgets and flashy software. These tools and techniques will vary from one company to the next. 

"Businesses need to provide their employees with the options to use the best technology and processes for each task in each circumstance, from the humble printed page to the more sophisticated digital collaboration tools," wrote Clark in the report, according to Beta News.

For instance, a close-quarters boardroom meeting would probably benefit from the use of hard copies, while a fast-paced interdepartmental phone conference would need digital documentation to keep things moving along. It's up to executives, managers and the end users to decide when and where to use paper, and how technology can help supplement this core resource. 

Solving paper problems
For organizations that want to ramp up their paper-based workflows for the 21st century, there are a number of products and services they can add to the mix. Professional print and distribution partners are an excellent resource for creating customized forms, documents, checks and pads that are tailored to the exact specifications of the business. 

Warehousing partnerships also bring major benefits to a paper-centric organization, allowing sellers to easily order, track, store and retrieve products in a simple and streamlined manner. In a business world that slows down for nothing, this level of on-demand service and assurance is a major advantage that no company can do without.