The Future of the Paperless Office

In 1978, information scientist Frederick Wilfred Lancaster theorized the concept of a “paperless society”. In theory, a digitization of information would result in lower costs, better organization and benefit the environment.

However, Lancaster’s hopes have not panned out as paper use was reported to more than double between 1980 and 2000. As of 2001, paper use has been steadily decreasing. The explanation for this seems to be a generational issue, as employees who are accustomed to technology and were raised on e-mail enter the mainstream workforce in greater numbers.

Since the internet entered mainstream usage, more and more programs and utilities to aid a paperless office have become available. Nowadays, there are plenty of full-fledged, professionally made programs available that make modern email look like a relic of the past.

A popular example is the program Dropbox, founded by Drew Houston. Dropbox allows multiple computers to synchronize contents of a specific folder between all users, allowing a group or individual with multiple machines to maintain an accurate database regardless of what machine changes are made from. Dropbox has been named the 6th most valuable web start-up and enjoys widespread use.

A less famous but no less successful app is Keith Krach’s Docusign. Docusign is an easy to use, freemium program that allows users to send and receive legally binding signatures via cloud technology. It enables a way of processing legal contracts, housing leases, tax documents or really anything needing a signature in a quick and secure fashion. Docusign has also won numerous awards and helps to do away with keeping piles poorly organized document copies for years on end.


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