When I started working in an office (late 1989) one of the first bits of training I received was a video presentation of ‘the office of the future’.
You could tell it was meant to be a futuristic vision since the workers were all wearing polo necks, rather than shirt and tie or blouses. They strode around purposefully and they sat at uncluttered desks, tapping away at computers, efficiently.
The point of the training video was to get me and my colleagues to think about what the streamlined workplace of the 21st century would look like and how productively we would be as workers in that environment.
Naturally a big part of that more efficient, productive future would be that the office was paper free.
I remember thinking at the time, that part of the vision seemed unlikely. Where would all the paper go? How brave would you have to be as a manager to say to the Big Boss ‘No, we don’t need to print anything out. It is all stored on the computer’?
Fast forward two decades and paper is still everywhere. Even working environments where there is a shared electronic records system, rely on people printing off copies of big reports, or long letters. However good the screen, it remains difficult to read anything lengthy online, let alone amend it.
The BBC’s technology programme ‘Click’ shows what paperless-ness might look like. Don’t worry, I think there is still some time before it gets here. And in case you were wondering there is not a polo neck in sight.