Since computers first hit our desks, the demise of paper has been foretold. And with every new technology the prediction that we will soon be paper-free is revived. And yet, a quick peak at the average working person's desk and the notion of paperless is often not even supported by less paper.
The trouble is that paper is convenient and versatile and is unlikely to be replaced by ether and bits anytime soon. Email, among the most promising of early paper killers, actually increases a corporation's paper use by 30-40%. Will tablets and cloud storage have better luck?
Paper (for those not familiar with it) is easily folded and fits in almost any pocket. It can be viewed over and over and never runs out of power. Paper is available in any size from very small to very big. Some paper is even edible. And, as far as I know, you can't kill a fly with a rolled up iPad. There is no app for that.
People like paper – yes, we have to use less – but all manufacturing comes at an environmental cost and paper manufacturers have made great strides over the years to operate in forest and human friendly fashion. Magazines, newspapers and books will, more and more, be offered as electronic versions thereof. Clouds will be filled with documents. Training will be offered online and manuals will be available in PDF format.
All true - and yet, I predict, that the prediction of the paperless office is not worth the paper it's not printed on.