Paper vs. Digital: Which Is Winning The Office Battle?

paperPaper-based work says a lot about your business.

A new study from Adobe of more than 1,000 business owners and managers has found fascinating insights on how paper-based processes are viewed in the business word. The overwhelming majority of managers expressed a negative perspective toward the security, efficiency, cost, and environmental impact of paper compared to evolving to a fully digital workspace.

Paper is More Expensive

This one is a no-brainer, but the single most obvious benefit of moving away form paper-based processes is the money and time saved buying huge reams of paper on a constant basis. Of the managers surveyed, 47% noted the cost of paper as a major negative of paper-based work and 61% said they would welcome the cost-benefits of going fully digital.

The cost of paper, as well as printer and copier toner and pens, is only one aspect of the overall expense. Paper requires storage and with office space typically the single biggest expense of many businesses, more than half of respondents said one of the biggest negatives of using paper is the limited space.

Paper is Less Efficient

Among the survey participants, only 36% claimed paper allows them to be more productive while 51% said that digital processes allow them to be more efficient. That is one of those “to each his own” scenarios but when you look at the deeper questions you can tell that the efficiency of digital streamlining far outweighs any productivity boost a paper document can give you.

  • 53% said digital processes help simplify work
  • 51% said digital processes make it easier to file, manage, and find documents
  • 38% said that paper-based processes simply create more work

Paper is Less Environmentally Friendly

We live in a quickly changing world and employees and clients want to do business with environmentally conscious modern companies. Of more than 1,000 business managers surveyed, 48% have a negative view of paper because it is harmful to the environment while 72% said they would like to use digital contracts because it helps the environment.

Moving away from a paper-based business also makes you company seem more modern. More than 75% of respondents said they are impressed when a company has a strong digital presence while 68% of respondents said that paper-based processes make a company seem old fashioned.

Paper is Less Secure

Among the biggest negatives to using paper appears to be the risk of losing or misplacing contracts and important documents. More than 55% of respondents cited the risk of losing a paper contract as a negative of paper-based business while only 40% claimed that paper makes it easier to locate files. Perhaps it depends on how organized each manager’s office space is, it’s hard to compete with the simplicity of searching for a document name on your computer and seeing it within seconds.

Still, 98% of respondents said they still use paper in their contract transactions despite the fact that 70% agree that digital contracts are more efficient and make life easier. Only 30% of respondents said they trust a vendor, client, or partner to not alter a paper contract and 67% agreed that paper contracts are more likely to be defaced or altered. Only 45% of people believe a contract in a locked file cabinet is secure.

As you can see, the business world is moving away from paper-based contracts and for good reason.

We’ve written a number of articles on this subject and the move from paper to digital. Has your business gone paperless or do you refuse to become a digital office? Let us know!

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Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is a freelance writer based in New York City. In six years of professional writing he has covered tech and business for COED Magazine, NYC Magazine, ThisorThat, Manwall, and Padalog. He is also the resident baseball expert at and a contributor to

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