A desire to disconnect and a preference for paper in the office demonstrates the high resilience of traditional media.
With a new poll concluding that the majority of people would prefer to return to pre-internet days, are we simply seeing a nostalgic paean for simpler times or is there something deeper and more complex going on?
Interestingly, the desire for a non-plugged-in era is especially strong among the younger generation, as well as those who are old enough to remember not having smartphones and easy internet access. While 77% of Americans aged 35-54 said they would prefer a return to their analogue roots – the highest of any group in the survey – an eyebrow-raising 63% of 18-34-year olds also agreed with the sentiment.¹
Clearly, a desire to disconnect can’t simply be a question of nostalgia. Tellingly, 57% of people under 35 agreed with the statement that technology divides – confirmation that the social media generation has grown weary – and wary – of the world of feuding tech billionaires, Chat GPT and Deepfake.
But beyond the attention-grabbing headlines, there are subtler moves at play. Research from Keypoint Intelligence reveals that the paperless office is less appealing to the workforce than managers seem to think. A survey of nearly 500 general office workers aged between 18-69 showed that 62% always or sometimes preferred working on paper, with employees under 35 more likely to prefer working with paper than their older counterparts.²
This belies the assumption that younger generations view print as old-fashioned and irrelevant, when the opposite is often the case. While most adopt a hybrid approach to working, using each technology where most appropriate, the fact remains that pencil and paper is the most effective tool for certain tasks.
The Power Of Paper
This is something borne out by the experience of Taymoor Atighetchi, founder and CEO of the British stationary company Papier, which has been a start-up success story since it launched in 2015.
“Nostalgia alone isn’t going to build a business,” he says. “The majority of our customers are 25-35 so they have got nothing really to reference. The internet was already around when they were born. I think it’s something deeper than nostalgia, something innate and human about receiving physical products.”
Notably, Papier is first and foremost an e-commerce brand. By utilising the power of digital publishing, it offers print-to-order personalised stationary that ranges from notepads and headed writing paper to wedding products, cards, diaries and academic planners.
“There are studies that show that when people connect their mind to pen and paper, more thought goes into it,” says Atighetchi. “There’s magic that happens there, compared to when you are writing on WhatsApp. Something happens that makes that message more meaningful.”
From adult colouring books to a surge in interest in Origami, it seems that we all prefer a hands-on, tactile approach to creativity once in a while. And for those who find the demands of the digital-first lifestyle too stressful, paper could provide just the moment of zen you need.