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Recent years have seen exciting developments in technology with great implications for the workplace, from video conferencing to the Internet of Things to virtual and augmented reality. And yet, increasing digitization has not rendered paper irrelevant, and it continues to hold importance in daily workflow.

Here are some key reasons why paper remains relevant, with input from Mopria Alliance members at Adobe and Lexmark:

1. Tangibility and familiarity: Physical documents offer a tangible and familiar form of information. Many people find it easier to comprehend and process information when they can interact with a physical document. In fact, it’s been proven that reading on paper is better for learning and memory.

“Paper continues to be the go-to medium for the consumption of information for all generations. It also provides physical media allowing for markups, edits, and general suggestions when providing information. While we see more optimizations around print, we expect it to remain an integral part of how we do business.”
Eric McCann, Manager, Technology Portfolio Architect, Lexmark

 2. Legal and regulatory requirements: Many industries and government agencies still require certain documents to be kept in hard copy for legal or regulatory reasons. These requirements are often in place to ensure the authenticity and integrity of the documents.

3. Reliability and accessibility: Paper documents do not rely on electricity or specific software to be accessed, making them readily available at any time. Additionally, they do not suffer from issues like data corruption or compatibility problems that can occur with digital files.

4. Notetaking and brainstorming: Many people find it more efficient and natural to jot down notes, ideas, and sketches on paper during meetings or brainstorming sessions. The physical act of writing can also aid in memory retention.

“Some of the most effective meetings I’ve had recently included a request from the chair to put away all digital devices and read solely from printed documents. Any notes and emphasis can be made directly with pen or pencil, and the annotated sheets can easily be scanned for retention and later digital manipulation using the Mopria Scan application.”
Mike Scrutton, Director of Print Technology and Strategy, Adobe

5. Visual aid and presentation: Paper-based materials, such as handouts or printed reports, are useful during presentations or meetings where participants may need to reference information quickly. It’s often easier to share and review paper documents in group settings.

6. Reduced eye strain: Extended screen time can lead to eye strain and other discomforts. Using paper documents occasionally can provide a welcome break from constant digital interaction.

“While sharing PDF documents digitally is an efficient method for disseminating them in your organization, reading documents digitally is less efficient. Very few digital screens make it comfortable to read a full Letter / A4 sized document at full size. Even more importantly, viewing a document on a digital device risk distracting chimes, pop-ups, and notifications, and the temptation to multi-task.”
Mike Scrutton, Director of Print Technology and Strategy, Adobe

7. Cultural and psychological factors: Some cultures and individuals may prefer paper-based documentation due to traditional practices or personal preferences. The psychological aspect of handling physical documents can also contribute to a sense of ownership and importance.

While paper’s role in the workplace may continue to evolve as technology advances, it is clear that it still holds value for many businesses and individuals. The key is finding a balance between paper and digital processes that best suit the organization’s and its employees’ needs and preferences.

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