We often say that the digital age is in full swing and that digital is becoming ‘the new normal’. Despite the digital possibilities that our society offers these days, use of paper has not decreased. There are even statistics that show a worldwide increase! That we cannot just shove paper to the side has gotten me thinking. It has caused me to make a simple assessment: “Paper vs. Digital.”

I went around asking people about the advantages of both paper and digital. I did the same for the disadvantages. I created a list of several of these advantages and disadvantages. I found it incredibly interesting to discover this: Why do some people still use paper whilst others have long since transferred to a digital workplace?

Advantages Paper:

  • It is tangible
  • Large documents are easier to read on paper
  • A note or a signature is conveniently written
  • Safe from cybercrime
  • Easy to browse and search for something

Advantages Digital:

  • Information is always complete
  • Information is easy to share with others
  • It is a quick method for data processing
  • By reducing printing costs, you help improve the environment
  • Less time spent searching
  • Strong digital security methods for privacy sensitive information
  • Saves space
  • More efficient
  • Ability to work independent of location

Disadvantages Paper:

  • Information is often incomplete
  • Printing a lot is detrimental to the environment
  • It only has a restricted lifespan
  • It takes up a lot of space
  • More susceptible to error
  • No control of who accesses which information

Disadvantages Digital:

  • Fear for cybercrime
  • Depends on territory; not all countries offer the same facilities and possibilities
  • Generation gaps
  • Dependent on electricity
  • Expensive purchasing of electronic devices
  • Often also dependent on internet connection
  • No hold on employees; it can sometimes become too flexible

If you look at the items above, it immediately becomes clear that more advantages of going digital can be named than advantages of using paper. And yes, naturally I agree with the advantages of going digital (otherwise I would have chosen the wrong career). What I do find very interesting, is that the advantages of using paper are very much based on emotions and feelings. It is tangible, easy to browse and write down a signature. The advantages of going digital are more focused on results; what can you achieve with it?

In any case, it is good to reflect on; what do you, as a user, really attach value to? For your own work situation but also for the organisation you work for. Maybe a hybrid solution is a good compromise for some organisations. I myself am convinced that you can no longer ignore the digital age. You will have to find your own way in it and support what you attach value to. Those possibilities are in abundance in the digital world!

Gemeente Venray Maasziekenhuis Pantein Reade GGD Twente

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