The Paperless Office

An often derided concept, ‘The Paperless Office’ has been around since the 1960’s. The idea was that office automation would make paper redundant and came further to prominence with the introduction of the personal computer. While the prediction of a PC on every desk was remarkably prophetic, the “paperless office” was not. Improvements in printers and photocopiers have made it much easier to reproduce documents in bulk, causing the worldwide use of office paper to more than double from 1980 to 2000.

With the advancements in technology and the introduction of millennials into the workplace, is this concept finally becoming a reality? At CBS, we actively encourage clients to use less storage, and challenge their working practises during the consultation phase of any refurbishment.

What is driving this concept to become a reality?

In a paperless office, there’s a whole host of cloud-based document management systems (DMS) available to reduce printing. One immediate advantage is cloud based documents with password protection are safer than having loose bits of paper lying around which anyone can pick up. Another plus is DMS allows you to file securely using encryption. This helps massively with compliance and the General Data Protection Regulation legislated this year to ensure data confidentiality at every stage of your business dealings.

The rise in agile working has also had an impact on paper reduction. Agile workers are assigned a locker and a laptop rather than a desk and a storage unit; this more nomadic way of working encourages people to file documents digitally rather than carrying around printed copies. As we advise all of our customers during consultation, most of your paper files only exist because someone pressed print on their computer!

The introduction of millennials into the workplace, has had a dramatic effect on paper reduction.  Millennials have been agile working throughout their education, and are well used to filing and retrieving information digitally; they are also far more aware of environmental issues and are likely to view unnecessary printing negatively. The way they view and adapt to technological advancements, further make the requirement for printed media less and less. This way of working has challenged the culture of printing, which you usually get from other generations who are likely to have more entrenched habits.

Why go paperless?

The benefits of adapting your office in tune with this concept are many. Without doubt, the greatest benefit you will see is financial. Unnecessary storage takes up valuable floor space and large scale reduction in storage can result in additional space for headcount and collaborative or meeting areas. In some instances challenging concepts and cultures and redesigning a workplace can accommodate company growth without the need for relocating offices.

Another obvious saving is the reduction in printing and consumable costs, and the requirement for additional filing storage solutions. Whilst we appreciate that many companies will not be able to go completely paperless (including us!), undertaking a consultative audit will enable us to redesign the storage you do require to be as efficient as possible.

There is also a holistic benefit to having a good housekeeping/decluttering exercise, a cleansing purge of all that unnecessary filing. Come on – be honest, do you really know what is in all of those cupboards and are you ever going to look at it again?!

If you’d like a design consultation for how to reduce storage in your office, or to discuss increasing your headcount in ways of working you hadn’t thought of before, please call us on 01344 290290 or email

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