Barriers preventing a paperless office

Image: Barriers preventing a paperless office

For years, conversations of a paperless office have been rife, and with constant development of technology the digital workplace has slowly advanced. Despite these advancements, the progression to a paperless office has been slow, and amongst many, it’s heavily doubted that the idea will ever come to fruition. Despite clear advancements, here are some of the top barriers preventing the workplace from going paperless.


Mail is one aspect of the workplace that has remained a constant for as long as can be remembered. Whilst email may now be the first choice when it comes to establishing contact, the mailroom still gets plenty of use. It’s inevitable that correspondence will arrive at the office in a paper format, however there are now technologies and practices in place that allow for organisations to no longer have to deal with incoming mail in this format. Document and data capture technologies are now able to transform a mail document into a digital format, meaning that the morning post can then be dispersed directly into your inbox. It might seem like a barrier initially, but with the right use of technology, this problem can easily be skirted around.

Record keeping

Even if your office is looking to adapt and target a paperless culture, there are obstacles. The use of tablet and mobile devices means that print technologies can be utilised at lower volumes, and many staff are beginning to see the value in bringing their own device (BYOD); however even if staff manage to adapt in an effort to eradicate printing, there are still practices, such as record keeping, that require documents in hard copy form. The sort of records you need to keep depends on the type of tax you have to pay. The law does not say how you must keep your records, however you do need to keep some original documents which show that tax has been deducted. It is recommended that you keep all original documents that you receive.

To further compound this, it’s advised as a general rule that you should keep your records for a minimum of six years. If you’re attempting to implement a paperless workplace, this is a rather substantial obstacle to overturn, and it can mean that the filing cabinets which take up valuable office space will continue to be required in order to keep these back dated documents.

Law firms

Within the law profession perhaps more than any other, there is a huge reliance on printed documents. From building portfolios when working with a client, all the way through to producing documents for use in court, it’s an industry that needs a complete culture adaptation if a paperless workplace is ever to come to fruition. Whilst within the courtroom, laptop computers and tablet devices are permitted for use in most cases, the reliance on hard copy documents is still huge.


Although it could be argued that technology isn’t yet advanced enough to completely satisfy a paperless office, clear advancements have been made. Technologies are available to utilise within the workplace that will aid the transition to a completely electronic workplace; however even then, the culture of the workplace is a challenge to adapt. Many staff simply don’t see the transition to going paperless as a priority. Having spent years in the office culture, many will adhere to old habits unless pressed to adapt to the new culture and with many not seeing the move as a priority when compared to other aspects of work, it’s hardly surprising that any progression is a slow one.

Contracts and signatures

In many professional organisations, contracts and other official documents play an important part in business success. The reluctance of many business owners to progress to e-contracts and signatures is another barrier that prevents an entirely electronic workplace. Contracts are required in hard-copy form in most cases, and when signatures are required, it becomes inevitable that a printed copy is required.

Although the world of technology is always progressing, and has advanced rapidly over recent decades, there are still areas that need further develop in order for a truly paperless office to come to fruition. If you want to find out more about technology developments in the print and document solution sectors, make sure you check out our main website.

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