Is the paperless office finally here?

Three years ago, Leo Hickman of the Guardian said of the promised paperless office: " Its repeated failure to arrive is as big a letdown as the perennial office party." But for some, it has finally arrived. The Globe and Mail describes Idea Rebel, a digital marketing agency in Vancouver, that is absolutely doctrinaire about it. Brian Borzykowski writes:

Idea Rebel is a truly paperless office. Pay stubs are e-mailed to employees, notes are taken on tablet devices and whiteboards get heavy use. Designers are allowed to bring in a pad of paper, but they have to take them home with them at the end of each day. He [CEO Jamie Garratt] wanted to go paperless, he says, because his business is all about creating digital products, such as applications, websites and social media tools. Using paper is the antithesis of his company’s core values.

The company actually turns down work where Requests for Proposals have to be supplied in print form, that's how serious they are about it. There's more on the company website that impresses:

From the very beginning our focus has been on digital solutions; our offices have been almost entirely paper free and we never print or fax. Our rebels make sure to keep reusable mugs for their daily coffees. We keep our power use and lighting to a minimum and always commute to work. Every Rebel either bikes, walks or takes transit to work. Many small changes can make a huge difference.

© Al Granberg/The New York Times

Five years ago, the New York Times imagined the paperless home office; it complained that "while these digital toys reduce dependence on one resource, they increase it on another: energy." It had three, count'em, three scanners; a scansnap to attack piles of paper, a flatbed and a portable. Also a paper shredder. Really the office had not gone paperless, just file cabinetless. Now you just don't bother with the paper step at all; At IdeaRebel, the CEO describes why:

“It’s unbelievable how fast things move,” says Mr. Garratt, who points out that he uses Basecamp to collaborate with co-workers and clients. “When a document is finished it gets posted and the client can see it within seconds and make revisions just as quickly. It would take weeks if we had to print and show them everything.”

Three years ago we surveyed readers about how often they print; 47% said rarely, and 20% didn't even own printers. Have the numbers changed since then? Let's do it again:


Tags: survey | Work