Office space and office work, when first envisioned, were based on the widespread availability of paper. Starting with the late 1800s, the efficient, cheap production of paper opened new horizons for companies and organizations worldwide. Offices were stacked with piles upon piles of paper – documents, records, registers, books, bills, notes and any other media imaginable. Newspapers, magazines, and other media outlets blossomed, many reaching a circulation of millions every single day. Paper has changed our society profoundly and made information readily available for everyone. However, the heyday of paper, at least how we see it today, has passed. The times are changing, and now we must embrace the new and smart alternatives to paper, which are quickly gaining ground in both the public and private sectors.
Why is Paper a Symbol of Inefficiency in the Modern Workspace?
Nowadays, office managers and employees see stacks of paper as a nightmare. The heaps of paper signify and remind us of long, boring days (and nights) spent in the office. The real problem posed by paper in modern-day companies relate directly to cost: paper is expensive. OK, not necessarily the paper itself as a product, but the costs required to store it, move it and use it. It is estimated that the maintenance costs for a single file cabinet can be as high as $2,100 per year, while filing a single file may cost $20 in labor. Paper documents hinder the productivity level in the company, increase stress levels among employees and slow down the activity of the entire company. It is bad for modern businesses, and managers are quickly heading over to digital and smarter alternatives. Large archive rooms are a thing of the past, and many office clerk positions can be redirected to more efficient positions inside the company.
So What are the Modern Alternatives to Paper?
1. Digital File Management Solutions
Digital file management solutions can help you save money by lowering the amount of labor, cut down paper costs, and increase the overall efficiency in your company. While the transition process from a traditional paper-based file management system towards a digital file management system can be cumbersome and time consuming, the benefits are astounding. Depending on the type of software you choose, the transition will be faster and more comprehensive. Also, in the long run, the employees will learn how to use the new technology and further improve their efficiency.
2. Electronic Paper
The Kindle e-reader is world Famous as one of the most successful e-book readers around. Its primary technology, known as electronic paper, is quickly replacing other traditional paper-based products. Every year, hundreds of thousands of books are launched in a digital format only (e-books) and are mainly designed to be read on an electronic paper device. Also, electronic paper is expected to reshape the newspaper; the launch of iRex iLiad in 2006 was the first e-newspaper, and it was welcomed by the public. Similarly, the French daily Les Echos began an e-newspaper version that came together with a reading device. Although the technology is not fully developed yet, it is expected to make an impact in the business world as well, especially for documents like forms and bills.
3. Reusable Paper for Transient Documents
Also known as self-erasing paper, this type of paper was developed by the Xerox Corporation in 2012. The company’s researchers at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada had a tough task on their hands: create a new type of paper that could be used over and over again. This new technology, although not fully developed yet, is expected to change how we see paper. The self-erasing paper uses a new chemical compound that absorbs only a particular wavelength of light, and then gradually disappears. The current version of the reusable paper from Xerox can be used multiple times after a 24-hour cycle.