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Paperless or paper-less?

Image: Paperless or paper-less?

A new study by carried out by us here at Altodigital, has revealed that far from heading towards a paperless office environment, businesses are in fact going the other way, with inefficient document storage practices, and an ever-increasing volume of wasted paper, energy and consumables across the UK. 

Our research, which questioned 1,000 decision makers at businesses across the UK, to help us understand evolving workplace print and document storage trends, found that despite ongoing talk of UK businesses moving towards a paperless environment, just 5% believe they will be paper-free within the next five years, or ten years (11%). A further 76% believed the ‘printed page’ would remain mission critical to their business’ operation.

There also emerged a less-than-frugal attitude towards staff’s print behaviour, with 46% always printing in colour as opposed to black and white, 39% opting to print single sided as opposed to duplex, and 35% regularly printing out emails to read.

A further 46% of companies admitted not tracking their print costs, while half don’t bother tracking their paper use. ‘Doubling up’ also emerged as a trend, with 90% of businesses storing important documents both electronically and in hard-copy form, while only 40% choose to store their files electronically over hard-copy. 

There appears to be little excuse for this wasteful practice; 73% of businesses already have print and document management technology in place allowing staff to track costs and manage documents in a smarter and greener way. However, the reason could be that nearly a third (27%) of managers did nothing to inform their staff of the ‘green’ print and document technologies at their disposal. This comes against the context of 66% of companies having internal and external targets in place to reduce their paper consumption in the future.

When questioned about the reasons for failing to move towards a paperless environment, 45% claimed they prefer the convenience of having a hard copy document to hand, 30% ‘didn’t trust’ storing or using electronic documents over hard copies, while a third believed printing a hard-copy document carries more gravitas than an electronic version. A further 19% thought ‘going paperless’ was too complicated and expensive, while 15% had a ‘print it out’ culture in place across their companies.

The paperless office is not a new trend by any means, but as the research shows, we’re seeing real resistance from staff up and down the country when it comes to putting it into practice. This is surprising given the very real benefits of moving towards a paper-free environment, such as significant cost and efficiency savings, not to mention the ability to operate in a greener capacity. There is also a general misunderstanding into what a paperless environment is, and it’s not just a case of printing less. A shift towards a true paperless office also involves examining how you use paper in its broadest capacity, for example, electronically filing and sharing documents, reducing storage costs and improving efficiencies.


Photo Credit: Dimi15 via Compfight cc

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