The Myth of the Paperless Office, or Why Printing Is Still Relevant

Why You Still Need a Printer

For years, experts have predicted the rise of the all-digital, “paperless” office. Despite advances in document creation and storage technologies, however, few offices have been able to convert to a completely paper-free way of doing business. In fact, a study conducted by Nitro found that 99 percent of employees still review printed documents at least some of the time.

Why hasn’t the corporate world been able to move into a completely paperless way of doing business? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that printing and paper documents are still relevant:

Paper Is Easy to Read and Mark Up

Ever tried writing a note in the margin of a PDF file? Or reading a 300-page report on Microsoft Word? While tablets and touchscreen technology have made these activities more digitally do-able, paper is arguably still “better” for reading and marking up long documents.

For one thing, reading for long stretches on a computer monitor is tiring. Most people blink less when using a screen than they do when they use paper, which can cause eye strain. People also tend to move their eyes less—they scroll to bring the words up to their line of vision rather than moving their eyes across a page. Holding your eyes (and head and neck) in one position for long stretches can cause fatigue and stiffness.

Another advantage that paper has is that in many instances it’s easier to take notes, write in the margins, highlight, underline, proofread, and share with paper than it is with digital documents. You can mark up a document for changes quite easily when it’s printed by simply pulling out a pen—doing the same on a laptop or a tablet is often not as intuitive.

Paper Is Cheap

Purchasing and implementing digital document creation tools and storage solutions can be both costly and time-consuming. Business owners, and small business owners in particular, must take a number of factors into consideration: how the tools will be used, security risks, architecture (software as a service vs. self-hosted), and whether adapting the technology will yield an ROI.

Paper, on the other hand, is cheap and readily available. It takes very little time or effort to install a printer and a filing cabinet in the office, and paper is efficient even for the smallest businesses. Paper also has the advantage of being there whenever you need it. You don’t have to worry about whether changing applications and file types will render your docs unreadable, and you don’t have to worry about the system failing.

All of this isn’t to say that it’s not a good idea to implement some sort of digital document system—this technology can make your business more flexible and efficient in a number of ways. This leads into the next point—

Paper Can Be Integrated into a Digital System

Even if you have an electronic document sharing system in place (even if that system is just email), it may not be time to completely give up on paper. You’ll likely still need an all-in-one printer, copier, scanner, fax machine in order to convert your paper docs (invoices, contracts, employment records, etc.) to a digital format and vice versa. Using paper for specific tasks and then digitizing them may save you time and money in some instances.

The Myth of the Paperless Office, or Why Printing Is Still Relevant image All In One Printers 300x229The Myth of the Paperless Office, or Why Printing Is Still Relevant
Sometimes it’s just easier to walk around the office and collect signatures than it is to let an important document languish in someone’s inbox, for example. Once you’ve done that, you can scan the document and store it electronically on your company server or in the cloud.


Despite the corporate world’s continuing push toward tech-enabled-everything, your business will likely still need to keep a dependable printer and a ream or two of bright white around for the foreseeable future. Do you prefer paper or digital docs? How does your business use paper?

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