Status Quo: The paperless office

Online surveys by the Fraunhofer Institute show it in black and white: Paper is losing its importance in the office and digitization is on the way. Many activities no longer require printouts. Most texts are created on the computer, on the phone or tablet. For many years we have been sending many files digitally, instead of having them printed from A to B. The prognosis: By 2048, there should hardly be any paper left in companies.


This has clear advantages:


  • The environment says thank you!
  • And also the wallet. Less paper is used, less toner and electricity, ...
  • Communication becomes more direct, easier and faster.
  • Working becomes more efficient. Instead of sending something from the computer to the printer and passing on the printed matter, a mouse click is enough.
  • Keeping things simple is easier because there is not enough paper around. Files are stored digitally, are easy to find and accessible from anywhere.
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But the reality ...


What does the reality in a German average office look like? There is little to see from the paperless office. Cabinets are lined up behind the desks - filled to the brim with bills, contracts and other documents that must be kept. Stacks of paper on the desks and in the storage compartments, fully written notebooks ... A condition that probably everyone knows. So is the paperless office just a dream of the future, or indeed a wishful thinking that can soon become reality?



There is the paperless office already


For example, the Dutch IT company Decos makes it clear that since 2011 it has almost completely waived paper. Lastly, even the toilet paper was abolished and replaced by a water rinse known from Asia. For us Europeans a rather unfamiliar idea ... But back to the topic: The only document that receives Decos even by mail, comes once a year from the tax office. Printers and copiers no longer exist, all documents are digitally processed, stored and archived. To easily work from home or on the road, the data and documents are stored on servers in the cloud. When deciding on business partners and service providers, it is a basic requirement for Decos that everything can run digitally.


But is it really possible and useful to adapt such a working model as you like? How much sense does it make to completely ban paper from the office?

Without paper, many do not want


In the course of digitization, Germany is gradually becoming more and more digital. Much of the paperwork is no longer an issue today as documents can be created on the computer and transmitted by e-mail with a digital signature. If there was still criticism at the beginning, if everything is really safe, the technology is much better protected against hacker attacks or similar than just a few years ago.

However, in some areas we still find it hard not to pick up a pencil:

  • Notes are such a case. Many people prefer written notes to the notebook they wrote in the meeting or simply prefer the feel of the paper. This will probably stay that way for now.
  • Corrections are easier for many, see them on printed paper.
  • When brainstorming, good ideas come faster, we can write them down.Of course, whiteboard or flipchart also offer optimal solutions.In addition, both whiteboard and flipchart are versatile.

Until the paperless office becomes reality, there is still a long way to go. In many areas it already makes sense to do without paper! In other areas, it remains to be seen how our habits change.