Does paper belong in the office of the future?

December 8, 20174 Minute Read

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When it comes to the office of the future, it’s anyone’s guess if humans and technology will peacefully coexist. While it’s doubtful talking robots will rise up to put humanity in its place (the creations of Boston Dynamics immediately come to mind), you can certainly bet technology will continue to play a huge role in every business moving forward. You can see it happening every day, with tech like VR coming to the office as a collaborative tool, self-healing office equipment being used to reduce cybersecurity risks, and chatbots entering the workplace for conversation-based productivity.

Organizations are also already adopting converging office trends, like employee mobility, flexible teams, and design thinking, so we know tomorrow’s office will be more nimble. But, while digitization gets a ton of attention—you may not have a desk or even a laptop a few years from now—will the office of 2020 be completely paper-free?

Put paper in its place

Think about the last time you gave a work-related presentation. How many people actually looked at your PowerPoint slides? While some may have fastidiously taken notes, there’s a good chance others were blazing through work emails or playing Clash of Clans. In the age of digital assets, the eyes tend to gravitate toward the individual screen—even if it means they’re reading X-Files fan fiction instead of paying attention.

Still, with today’s office and the office of the future both digitally powered, paper can be a welcome relief for strained vertebrae and tired eyes. In fact, neuroscience research shows that paper has the upper edge when it comes to getting attention and sticking to your memory. One study even revealed that paper won in nearly every area of memory-related testing over digitally presented content, including:

  1. Amount of time spent looking at content
  2. Amount of information processed and absorbed
  3. Emotional reaction
  4. Accurately remembering the information
  5. Speed and confidence of information recall
  6. Value placed on information

You may not believe it, but the right way to emphasize important info today—and in the future—may not be a shinier PowerPoint with better graphics, use of white space, and transitions. It may be printing key points on paper.

Navigate today’s attention deficit

Everyone loves to say that humans now have shorter attention spans than the average goldfish. The phenomenon of shrinking attention is so intense that major movie studios are now exploring a new medium for movie trailers: .gif files. That’s right, the average person gets so distracted during a 2–3 minute movie trailer it’s necessitated a seconds-long, looping .gif that reveals key movie events.

If you’re in the business of working with people, understanding the impact of the shrinking attention span is especially crucial. Studies reveal that we’re actually suffering among the constant push notifications and deluge of emails we face on a daily basis. We’re calling it infobesity now: The side effects of too much information in digital formats include fatigue, diminished productivity, memory loss, poor decision making, and stress-related diseases, like high blood pressure.

For both IT leaders and aspiring people managers, the point is clear: Not only are your emails and Slack messages likely to be ignored or quickly forgotten, they could be giving your team physical health conditions. Based on the real phenomenon of poor decision-making, you may want to hit “print” if the information really matters.

Let’s talk endpoint security

The days when companies were powered by a handful of desktop computers, some servers, and maybe a few VoIP phones are officially behind us. Given that analysts predict companies will deploy a total of 3.1 billion connected “things” by the end of 2017 (bringing the total number of IoT devices to 8.4 billion), your company network is bound to have way more endpoints.

That’s where paper-based print solutions come into play. The physical document security aspect of secure printing has gotten a major boost with secure document solutions, like a SaaS pull print service that incorporates cloud queues and authentication prior to printing. We’re so far into the future that you can even embed fraud prevention technologies into your most critical documents.

Even better news? Tomorrow’s best tech will likely operate more like a member of your IT security team than a vulnerable endpoint. Today’s top print tech is already incorporating next-gen features, like fully automated monitoring, real-time threat detection, and self-healing from attempted security attacks. Pull printing solutions go one step further in ensuring your paper workflows are as secure as possible.

Tomorrow’s office might give us robot security guards and super helpful chatbots—but we’ll also have colorful prints for when you really need your coworkers to pay attention.

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