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in pursuit of the paperless office

Synthesize insights into new products or business development, through human-centered research.

Will Paperless Office be the future?

  • Gathered inspiration data and information through human-centered research.

  • Transform and summarize the information into structured models that allow for comparison and further interpretation of data.

  • By defining insights, identified problem areas that pose challenges to the users. Try reframing insight statements as turning those challenges into opportunities for design.

Role / 

Researcher / Designer​


Year / 


The phrase ‘paperless office’ is traced to Xerox PARC. A paperless office is a work environment in which the use of paper is eliminated or greatly reduced. This is done by converting documents and other papers into digital form. The concept of a paperless office has been around for nearly 40 years; nonetheless, during this period, printing has increased. companies use today 40% more paper, even after having adopted e-mail. Why people still prefer paper in office even computer, tablets and other technology are widely used could replace paper? What is the human need behind? Will Paperless Office be the future?


Framing Questions

  • Why people still prefer paper?
  • What is the human need behind?
  • Is the future still Paperless?

Research Goal

  • Understand the workflow of normal office workers.
  • Understanding the motivations of workers why they choose paper, digital files or combination of them.
  • Understanding what their work means to them.



Follow an interviewee, while observing and documenting, capture stills from the video which is important, in order to talk more about.


Tow circles with central overlap, let participants put options in categories, choose the files they want them to be in digital (put card in blue circle), paper (put card in red circle) or combination of paper and digital (put card in yellow central overlap part), such as data documents, meeting files, presentation file, notes, ideas sketches, Legal Documents…

3 Interviewees
Office workers are who has work experiences, who knows daily work process in office, they could be male or female. Occupations could be diverse (Designer, school teacher, and white-collar)
2 Experts 
Designer or Researcher who has knowledge about the market trend designer who designs office facilities 

Interviews and Office visiting​

Interview Highlight Sample 

KJ Method 

Look over all notes, videos, photographs, and other documentation of fieldwork, and mark or highlight anything that seems to be important.

Ology Diagrams to Discover Insights​

POEMS + A&I Framework

User Experience Journey Map
Answer the ethnographer’s questions

Define areas of research findings such as rituals and deviations


  1. what does paperless office mean to office workers?

  2.  what are the repeated behaviors? are there any patterns (rituals)? what do the rituals mean in terms of individual and group identity? what are the deviations, and what does it mean to deviate?

  3. what sense of order is provided for [the participants]?

  4. what are the roles of participants and nonparticipants?


Define areas of research findings such as rituals and deviations

system challenges themes
insights opportunities

Method: Pile Sort

Images of office supplies and accessories (calendar, whiteboard, printer, scanner, fax, computer, calculator, notes book, tablet...). Pile 1 the most important supplies they think they need during work; Pile 2 less important supplies they need during work; Pile 3 daily use without special meaning

Narrow down to final 8 promising opportunity


Based on insights

1st Round
80 Ideas


Technology research and concept further refinement

#1 Reprinter

Personal recycle machine 
Combine printing and recycling in one machine
Technology: Erasable Ink


#2 AR/VR Office System

Unlimited working space
Immersive experience
Easily manipulate information
Technology: AR MR VR


#3 E-note

Easy transfer to digital files
More color choices
Build personal color coding system
Technology: Eink paper

#4 Memory Tree (APP)

Record every branch ideas and mistake regularly Generate a memory tree for further inspiration 
Service or software record mistakes​