Is The Paperless Office Finally Becoming a Reality?

‘The paperless office’. Is it an achievable goal that we’re all heading towards or a mostly unrealistic pipe dream…?

The concept of a working environment that’s entirely print-free has been talked about for decades now. The idea was first mooted in a Bloomberg Businessweek article called ‘The Office of the Future’ way back in June of 1975. At the time it was appreciated but dismissed as mere Jetsons-esque fantasy. But in the forty-odd years since the invention of the paperless office as a notion, we’ve gradually gathered together all of the tools necessary to make it a reality. Yet it still doesn’t really exist.

Every year since people first read about the paper-free workplace, global print volumes have grown. Businesses are increasingly print-happy. Until recently, that is. Just as all hope of the paperless office seemed to have faded away, there’s been a breakthrough. For the first time, printing volume is dropping. Only slightly, but it’s happening. Could a work culture free from unnecessary printing finally become a reality? Quite possibly.

The idea of digital transformation is appealing to any organisation. Ditching the filing cabinets and folders and stationery cupboards crammed with boxes of paper in favour of automated workflows that are quicker and easier. What’s not to like?

The sheer number and quality of smartphone and tablet apps that can help with business workflows now is a significant factor in the paperless office being within reach. Faxes can be sent to email inboxes instead of printers, presentations are given, and meetings are held with digital screens the focal point instead of printouts, workflows can be automated via software and the data stored in servers or The Cloud. The list goes on.

Is print finally being eroded by digital? To an extent, yes. Paper consumption is down and will keep dropping. Technological innovations, environmental concerns and legislation will see to that. It’s pretty unlikely we’ll ever exist in a business world utterly devoid of print jobs, though. Mostly because that’s not all that sensible an idea – paper still works.

So your trusty old office printer isn’t destined for landfill quite yet. But this change in printing attitudes and the trend to avoid using paper wherever possible does have ramifications for you and your print contract. Most managed print services companies want you to print – as much as possible. It’s where their revenue comes from. This kind of contract is driven by volume and cost and often not to your advantage.

That’s not how we work here at Nustream. We want you to reduce your print volumes. Reduce your net spend on printing. We figure out how paper flows through your business and where it can be cut down or replaced by automated workflows. And – crucially – where it can’t.

Let’s not obsess over banishing the humble A4 sheet entirely, though. Instead, let’s focus on what makes sense to be printed and what doesn’t. We don’t want you to print everything. We want you to print what you should be printing and nothing else. That’s why one of our main mottos is ‘Print for less. Print less’.

Getting as close to a paperless working environment as possible comes, as you can imagine, from using less paper. And there are three ways that we can help you do that:

  1. Supplying and managing workflow-streamlining technology for your multi-function devices (such as Xerox’s ConnectKey technology)
  2. Implementing efficient Robotic Process Automation software
  3. Providing you with our business process consultancy service

Is the paperless office starting to become a reality? We’re not so sure. Print volume is dropping worldwide and that’s a good thing. But it will level out. There will always be paper in business. It’s often very useful. But printing out emails for no real reason? That’s less useful. We often refer to the split in print usefulness as ‘Good Paper/Bad Paper’.

Our prediction? We think we’re heading towards an age of The Almost Paperless Office. Where printing still happens, but only where strictly necessary. And we’re all for it.

Does the idea of The Almost Paperless Office appeal to you? If so, then we can help your business get there.

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