Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"The Paperless Office"

I personally will be more willing to go paperless when, for instance, Duke Power's secretaries (the people you talk to when you call the office) understand the concept of online payment. "That's another department," they explain to me, "we don't have access to that information."

Extracts from
The New Push to Get Rid of Paper
by Arik Hesseldahl

Thirty-three years ago this month the phrase "paperless office" entered the business lexicon ...

Some of the very machinery that makes paper theoretically obsolete has helped make it all the more ubiquitous. Devices that scan and convert documents to a digital format double as printers and copiers—and they've become so small, cheap, and easy to use that they're on—or near—every desktop.

In 1975 the average U.S. office worker used 62 pounds of paper a year. By 1999, that figure peaked at 143 pounds, but in 2006 it was still at 127 pounds.

Last year, U.S. companies printed 1.5 trillion pages, according to research firm IDC. That's a 95,000-mile-high stack of paper, or the equivalent of 15 million to 20 million trees. RISI analyst John Maine esimates that companies will spend about $8 billion this year on paper alone; that doesn't include costs for ink, toner, or running copiers, printers, and fax machines.

In the typical office, for every dollar spent on printing documents, companies incur another six dollars in handling and distribution, according to Xerox.

Printers, copiers, and fax machines have a funny way of multiplying haphazardly. One company advised by Le Clair thought it had 150 fax machines, but a detailed search turned up 1,000, many of which were rarely used.

Researchers at Xerox found that about half of the documents printed in a typical office are thrown away within 24 hours.

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