Tablets the last hope for the paperless office?

The pull of paper has proven too strong for many offices, with the paperless office concept becoming a laughing stock. But tablets are tipping the balance in homes, Gartner said. So why not businesses?

Those who have scorned the paperless office, saying it will never eventuate, may eat their words. New statistics from Gartner have shown that tablets are definitely changing the amount of paper that we use in our daily lives.

The survey, which was conducted at the end of 2011, asked 510 US, UK and Australian consumers to log their daily tablet use over a week. The survey found that the top five personal activities, in order of popularity, were email, reading the news, checking the weather, social networking and gaming.

A majority of these users preferred to read their news, magazines and books on a screen, rather than paper. Yet, few were using mobile devices to read books. One in three used a tablet to do so, 13 per cent used a mobile PC and just 7 per cent used their smartphone.

Gartner principal research analyst Meike Escherich said this indicated that mobile devices were not yet a direct substitution for traditional paper-based media and that paper would not be eliminated completely, but did say tablets would certainly reduce the amount of paper used.

"We do not believe that the 'paperless home' will prevail, but it is clear that the 'less-paper model' is the new reality," she said.

Due to the consumerisation of the business IT environment, these habits are likely being translated into the workplace.

Unfortunately, though smartphones and tablets might create a reduced-paper environment for business, as they have in the home, they're also enabling employees to carry out more personal tasks while at work.

Of those surveyed, 66 per cent admitted to using smartphones for personal activities at work.