Paper vs Digital: The Advantages of Paper In The Office

Friday, August 9th, 2019

advantages of paper in the office

Despite all the buzz surrounding ‘paperless offices’ and their digital filing systems, paper isn’t going anywhere. No matter how far technology takes us, the advantages of paper in the office are valuable enough that it cannot be replaced with anything digital. 

What are these valuable benefits? Below, you’ll read about a few of the advantages paper holds over digital systems.

Universal Communication

The problem with electronic communication and digital records is that it comes in a dizzying array of formats, programs, and transmission systems. Paper is paper, no matter where it goes. There are incredible benefits to electronic document systems but paper has been around for much longer. Further, there’s no need to download a different program or have any tech savviness to open a paper document. 

Printed documents are still the gold standard of communication because it is a salient and globally recognized medium there is. The vast number of offices across the world report that they standardize their internal and external office communications by way of paper. This fact alone gives paper an inherent value to its role in the digital landscape. 


There are times when technical problems are unavoidable. There are also times and places where there won’t be access to an internet connection, a computer, or even a power cord. What there will almost always be access to is paper. Having a printed document that does not require retrieving it by digital means is a power symbol of accessibility. 

Readability and Comprehension

Researchers have found that information delivered digitally is processed faster than information delivered by way of paper. However, processing does not translate into comprehension. When you have a paper document in your hand, you’re more likely to absorb more information in the right context, rather than quickly skimming over text on a screen. 

The spatial processing that comes with reading information on printed documents is what allows human beings to retain new information. As a person reads a piece of paper, the brain uses it as a point of reference (think of it as if you were examining a painted box by rotating with your hands, inspecting the color of one panel before turning it to see what color the next panel is) Knowing where information was found while reading allows the brain to “locate” the memory and access the data within 

Increased creativitypaper in creative collaboration

You can engage with a piece of paper. The tactile experience of writing down ideas and thoughts with a pen is where creativity happens. And creativity is incredibly valuable in collaborative efforts in an office. There is only so much a person can do to engage with electronic documents. But when team members have paper for their pens, there is no limit to their innovation. 

More eco-friendly paper options

There’s no debate that it’s important to reduce paper waste. Cutting paper usage is part of sustainability and taking responsibility for the environment around us. And until recently, there were only a few options for buying recycled paper. That is not the case today.

More and more paper manufacturers are electing to offer recycled materials and environmentally sound manufacturing processes. These sustainable changes has reduced the impact of paper manufacturing on the environment. Now that there are far more options of recycled paper available for purchase, it is possible to purchase paper and continue to be a green office with sustainable practices. 

Legal considerations

Despite the rise of electronic filing and digital formats, many jurisdictions have legal requirements that certain physical documents be kept on record. Legal documents such as titles, deeds, and contracts must be printed and then physically signed rather than handled electronically. This is especially true for financial institutions, where lenders must keep the original loan documents in paper form, even if they scan them for online use.

Health benefits

One major advantage that paper holds is not just in its readability, but the health benefit offered from its readability. There is no eye strain caused by the glare of a screen when reading paper; there is with the monitors and electronic devices that deliver digital information. 

Beyond eye strain, the continuous use of electronic devices comes with an increased incidence of carpal tunnel and joint issues caused by the repetitive movements required by the keyboard and mouse. These health issues aren’t found in paper systems. 

These are just a few of the advantages of having paper in the office. Paper has gained its value in many ways, and these only scratch the surface of its role in today’s world. The challenges of a paperless office only serve to showcase the strengths of paper. And because of this, there will always be a filing cabinet and paper tray in every office; even in the face of the eternal debate of paper vs electronic documents.

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