More and more people are using tablet computers at work, which some believed would help advance the concept of the “paperless office,” but a new study reveals that office workers still prefer to do their reading on printed paper.

Epson Europe surveyed 3,600 workers in the United Kingdom about their use of paper. Sixty-four percent said they prefer to read reports and brochures on paper, in part because it offers the advantages of sharability (53 percent) and the ability to easily edit and annotate (41 percent).

A majority (62 percent) of the workers also said they believed they would make more errors editing an electronic document compared to editing on paper.

Overall, the idea of a paperless office remains out of reach for most of these employees, with 83% of them saying the “paperless office is unrealistic,” and 86% stating that a ban on printing would limit their productivity.

“It is clear from our research that despite digital advances, people still like to work with paper, preferring print rather than working on-screen for certain tasks,” said Rob Clark, senior vice president of Epson Europe. “businesses need to provide their employees with the options to use the best technology and processes for each task in each circumstance, from the humble printed page to the more sophisticated digital collaboration tools.”

Epson officials also note that many organizations use printers inefficiently, which negatively affects the productivity of workers who prefer to use paper documents. Every year, European workers spend an average of 19 hours walking to and from printers, covering a cumulative distance of 110 kilometers (68.3 miles), according to Epson.

To put an end to what’s described as the “printer Olympics,” Clark recommends businesses set up “distributed printer fleets,” with equipment located closer to users.

This arrangement reduces “the average of 5 minutes spent walking to centralized printers every day,” he said. “A distributed printer fleet minimizes the impact of printer downtime, eases the pressure on corporate networks and reduces delays through local control of print jobs and queues.”

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