The Enduring Popularity of Paper

Our ever-increasing dependence on digital devices has led to inevitable changes in the workplace. One of the most significant adaptations of the modern office is a reduced reliance of paper. It’s no longer necessary for us to exclusively work with hardcopy printed documents—and many of us actually prefer to work with digital documents instead of old-fashioned paper versions—leading to a reduction in the amount of printing done in businesses. While the slow decline in office printing continues, a study revealed its decline has actually slowed thanks to an unlikely reason: the popularity of paper amongst millennials.

InfoTrends, a worldwide market research and strategic consulting for the digital imaging and document solutions industry, surveyed 750 office workers on developments in office printing. The data they collected did show, as expected, further evidence of the decline in office printing: they predict a decline of 3.6 percent in the United States over the next three years. However, unexpectedly, they discovered no evidence of a generation gap in office worker’s attitudes towards paper. More specifically, participant responses were consistent across all age groups, including 18-29 year-olds, which does not support the conventional wisdom that millennials are so completely sold on going digital that they’ll help fast-track the demise of paper use.

“One of the most interesting conclusions we’ve brought out of this survey, which reinforces learnings we’ve had from previous studies, is that younger people seem to have an equal if not slightly higher preference for using paper,” said Andrew Carroll, InfoTrends Associate Director. “When we talk about persistent print, the assumption shouldn’t necessarily be that print is only going to be persistent amongst the older age group.”

Why do millennials like working with printed documents as much as older generations? Just like with their predecessors, when it comes to reviewing and editing documents, they prefer to do these types of work with paper documents rather than work with an electronic version. While it seems a great deal of our lives are spent staring at screens, some activities are just more conducive for a piece of printed paper. Despite the many differences among generations, that simple fact is something we share regardless of the year we were born.