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Video didn't kill the radio star, but will the pandemic end office filing, forever?

The 1975 prophecy of a paperless future by Businessweek is becoming a reality - finally. The pandemic has raised some key questions, of which, filing is a small yet important part. Information needs to be available to all employees, wherever they are located.

In 1975, BusinessWeek predicted the paperless office.

In 1980, the Buggles predicted that Video Would Kill the Radio Star.

In 1995, Newsweek columnist Clifford Stoll predicted the death of the internet.

One of these predictions is about to come true, albeit 45 years later.

In the last week, I’ve had discussions with two legal practices. Interestingly, both have questioned their need for office filing given the current environment. The question is underpinned by the lack of internal and external requests for hard copies during lockdown. Another legal client of ours has seen requests from archive drop by over 98% even though they have storage of over 20,000 boxes. The lack of requests and unchanged productivity levels drove the question, “do we need this paper anymore?”.

Communication between legal firms and their clients are now almost all electronic, albeit there appears to be a need for the final wet signature on legal contracts. How long this will be the case as we embrace e-signature remains to be seen.

Circumstances such as, working from home, have forced employees to find ways around requesting hard copies. Let’s face it, most information stored in internal files are just prints of electronically generated documents. External documents are generally supported by email copies so finding what you need can usually be located by a trawl of internal EDM systems or your email. A somewhat quicker solution than asking for a file to be sent from an admin in your office.


As we seek to redesign office spaces and build them to attract staff, we will need to do more with the space you have. By virtually eliminating hard copy filing, you will be surprised by the space you can liberate and what can be done with this space when the anchor is removed.


The pandemic has raised some key questions, of which storage is a small yet important part. Information needs to be available to all wherever they are located. This can only be done electronically.


At ClearSpace, we’ve been able to drastically reduce filing space by undertaking virtual surveys and agreeing filing reductions either through archive or destruction. All of this work can be carried out without the need for your staff on-site. In rare cases, we will advise on document scanning but this would be supported by a robust business case.

The pandemic will bring about the greatest change to the way we work. Locations will remain flexible, meaning traditional hard copy will become almost redundant as a primary source of information. At ClearSpace we see this as an opportunity to question the past, and embrace the future office space.


Written by Guy Spragg, Managing Director at ClearSpace Group Limited

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