Although the term “paperless office” has been touted as the way of the future since as early as 1975, it has yet to take root in reality for many offices. Technology such as the personal computer, scanners, printers, and photocopiers make it easier to share documents electronically. However they also make those same documents easier to print out in high volumes. This results in a tremendous waste of money and resources that could have otherwise been easily conserved.
Modern offices all use file formats and emails to quickly send and relay information, yet at the same time there has been an upsurge in the amount of documents printed. Studies show that the average US worker prints about 10 thousand pages every year, which approximates to nearly 8 million tons of paper. This immense usage of paper is wasteful, especially since existing technology can circumvent all this. Many of the documents that are printed out, such as those for presentations and meetings, are usually thrown out immediately afterwards. Those that are not have to be organized, archived, and stored, increasing internal cost.
The most efficient way to work with documents is to achieve a paperless office. Although paper usage will never be completely eliminated, performing the majority of document work via electronic means is beneficial. Information is made more consistent and accessible, which furthers workflow and productivity. Software such as OCR can make documents text searchable and editable, which is a large step towards preventing needless printing and accomplishing a paperless office.