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Millennials are bringing a lot of change to the workplace, but maybe not as fast as we think.
I’m a Millennial and I worked on the Keypoint Intelligence 2022 US Future of Work Study, but I was surprised—perhaps even shocked—when I saw the results of one question: “Do you prefer working on paper?” In our survey of 492 general office workers that work with documents, with print as part of their role, and who’ve indicated they work from home 100% or are hybrid, the overall tendency to print less because of hybrid work is evenly distributed among our three age ranges. The identified shift towards less printing is being driven by Millennials and Gen Z alone.
|Do You Prefer Working on Paper?|
|Source: Keypoint Intelligence 2022 US Future of Work Study|
Although these younger cohorts do print less in aggregate relative to older generations, the overall percentage of the 18-34-year-old age group (that prints at least occasionally) is nearly the same as the 35-49- and 50-69-year-old age groups. For example, our study found that the percent of these age groups that print overall is the following:
Print Spans Generations
After a long night out (post-COVID and dressed in protective gear), a group of friends and I returned home. As we walked through the door, I noticed a new HP printer sitting on one of the shelves. I couldn't help but ask my friend why he had the printer. “Well, it’s saved my butt on multiple occasions,” he responded. He went on to say that he just felt safer about having physical copies of items such as medical documents, bill copies for institutions, and vaccination records. Despite the omnipresence of digital documents, how people process vast amounts of digital information remains a challenge…and this is cross-generational. The printed page has a timeless quality with its safety features that can be experienced through physical touch unlike anything digital.
The last thing I printed happened to be copies of my birth certificate. As I make my way through the adult world, I made it a point to be prepared. Always. I have a perfectly fine desktop computer I can quickly click here, download there, and save. It made more sense to me that such an important document be a physical copy. My parents had hard copies and no computers (for most of their lives), and while I have been on computers my whole life, I still save physical copies.
Again, I’m a Millennial. I think change is good, but it doesn’t have to mean doing away with the old—so long as that old is still useful or working. It’s just as our study found: A hardcopy is still a very viable medium regardless of which generation you belong to.
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