Does Paper Have a Hold On Humans?

Papyrophiliac. Yes, there is a word for a person who loves paper. There’s even a word for those people who collect paper, hallmaphiles. This might be hard to believe, especially in the digital age. Every piece of paper that humans used to collect and store, insurance cards, maps, mail, warranties, user manuals, receipts, recipes can all be found in digital form. This raises the question; Does Paper have a psychological hold on humans?

In the 1970’s futurist Faith Popcorn predicted the demise of paper. She predicted that all the things that we now access on our phones, tablets and more would go away. There would simply be no need to use paper anymore. Children growing up today will never have the smear of black ink on their hands after reading the early morning newspaper. “Cracking the spine of a book” is an antiquated phrase that even Generation X may not recognize. Reference books are all online even if you find them in a digital library. Most information that is used by people today is found in digital form or via your home speaker. Another Faith Popcorn quote “Just before consumers stop doing something, they do it with a vengeance.”

Since the late 1970’s when the predictions of a paperless society began it was always with the belief that productivity would increase and cost would decrease. When every desk in the office has computer, it was thought that certain processes bookkeeping, logistics and more would be automated removing the need for paper. What futurist didn’t reckon was that with each of the desktop computers would come desktop printers. Technology brought the cost to printing documents down so low that printing whole documents was inexpensive. Between the 1980’s and 2000’s paper use increased exponentially spawning thriving industries for document storage and shredding.

Have we finally come to paper’s last stand? Since the 2000’s offices in the US are using less paper. Security has increased for storing digital records behind passwords and firewalls. As people become more comfortable with the security of digital storage, the more likely they are to use it not only for personal documents but also in their business. Layer the addition of pandemic where everyone is looking for a way to limit their contact with others digital processes have exploded. From receipts to taxes humans are eliminating the need for hard copy paper documents. For generations we’ve been told to save receipts, file your income taxes and insurance forms many documents receiving favored treatment.

Today you can take a paper receipt, but most opt for a text or email. Business expense reports are automatically done by taking pictures of receipts as you receive them. Before your flight home even lands, your expense report can be filed digitally without you ever missing a beat. For the last decade most people file their income taxes digitally with e-signatures. Payments or refunds are processed digitally with little to no paper. As people navigate life in the pandemic, all are looking for multiple ways to limit their contact…with people. Everything that can be done digitally is being done digitally. Those that embraced technology, using automated processes are ahead of the curve. Some whole industries are playing catch up and those papyraphilliacs are still dancing in their paper chaos.

The paperless office has been moving beyond myths as one-by-one various industries embrace automated digital processes. Completely eliminating the need for paper hard copies can be done. As always thought, those industries embracing digital processes have increased their productivity and decreased their costs. Technology has moved from the Filofax to the Blackberry to Alexa in a short period of time. While we like to believe that these changes were easily accepted, most of us were kicking and screaming to hold on to our favorite technology. Believe it or not, you can still find inserts for your Filofax even if you can’t reboot your Blackberry.

Is it time for your business to go paperless? In a perfect world your team is ready to transition, and everything will happen in a blink of an eye. In the real world a customized solution that includes training and processes for exclusively for you can be found at Mosaic.