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Paperless office is unrealistic: Epson research

Read time 2min 50sec
Jeroen van Beem, head of Sales, AFIS, Epson Europe BV.
Jeroen van Beem, head of Sales, AFIS, Epson Europe BV.

Despite increasing workplace digitisation the majority of South African office workers say that "the paperless office is unrealistic", and consider printing "vital" in helping them work effectively.

This is according to a survey of over 2 400 employees from across EMEA, commissioned by Epson Europe, which revealed around 81% of South African respondents consider printing "vital" in terms of helping them work effectively, while an overwhelming majority (76%) felt a "paperless office is unrealistic".

More than 38 years have passed since British-American information scientist Frederick Wilfrid first envisioned a paperless office in 1978. Today, the reality is that printers continue to be used daily, adds the research.

"It is clear from our research that - despite digital advances and over 41% of businesses now digitising documents in favour of keeping hard copy records - people still like to work with paper, preferring print rather than working on-screen for certain tasks," says Jeroen van Beem, head of Sales, AFIS, Epson Europe BV.

Eighty-eight percent of South African respondents said they considered printing critical to the way their industry operates, with 44% of them revealing that they print more than 10 documents per day with the most popular printed items being invoices closely followed by letters, reports and brochures, and e-mail attachments, the report notes.

South Africans tend to keep and use the documents that they print out, with just 16% saying that they waste or don't use more than 30% of the documents they print out. While this is not to say that print is any less valuable (in fact a third of employees (33%), said that their productivity would decrease if they were no longer able to print), it is a factor that is on the minds of employees, 76% of whom believe that environmental preservation is important, explains the research.

"The reality is that organisations need print to help employees work effectively, but if they are careful about the technology they choose, they can reap wider productivity and environmental benefits too," highlights Van Beem. "By selecting inkjet printers over comparable laser products, for example, organisations can achieve up to twice as many prints while producing 95% less waste and with much lower energy consumption, a fact that an alarming 65% of businesses in South Africa are still unaware of."

Lee-Ann Letcher, product manager at Canon SA, says while everyone thought print was slowly becoming obsolete, this is not true. It has just merely changed.

"Printing companies have now moved beyond providing innovative technologies to providing an all-rounded digital service that empowers businesses with solutions that are geared to help cut the cost of key processing information, through increased automation and digitisation of paper- based administration. Even in this data-centric, digital era, print still has a place. Today, companies process and store massive volumes of documents. These documents, whether printed or digital, lie at the heart of every organisation," notes Letcher.

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