British startups still relying on pen and paper to formulate ideas » SMEInsider

British startups still relying on pen and paper to formulate ideas

The UK is in the middle of a startup boom – more than 608,000 new businesses launched in 2015 and more than 8,000 have already started in 2016. According to Tech City, as many as 15% of businesses started in the last few years have been digital businesses.

Despite this, and advances in modern collaboration technology, new research from Epson UK reveals that pens, paper and white-boards still form the creative backbone of young British businesses, with 82 per cent relying on them on a daily basis.

The independent survey of 500 entrepreneurs, new businesses and start-ups across the UK confirms that pen, paper and whiteboards are the most popular tools for facilitating and capturing ideas for creative tasks (63 per cent), with desktop computers, laptops (58 per cent) and post-its (28 per cent) following suit.


Tantalisingly tangible 

Respondents said they preferred physically writing things down because it’s quicker and easier than typing (73 per cent), helps them better remember and process important information (74 per cent) and enables them to think more creatively (63 per cent). Even so-called digital natives, those aged between 18-24 years old, admitted they like using pens, paper, whiteboards and writing tools to think creatively about tasks (73 per cent).

Pen, paper and physically writing down information was preferred by 72 per cent of start-up owners, with 82 per cent of those using them on a daily basis. Only one per cent of those surveyed reported that they had gone completely digital and no longer use pens, paper, whiteboards, or physically write things down.

Having said that, the research also revealed the importance of collaborative and interactive technologies in capturing information, with 86 per cent of people saying they use computers, tablets, mobile phones and interactive projectors to do so.


Elusive ‘paperless office’

“While there is no doubt that computers have an important role in the workplace, these results suggest that paper and pen is key to the creativity that fuels the UK’s burgeoning entrepreneurs, new businesses and start-ups. With multiple research papers showing that the brain is more stimulated by hand-written non-linear information than typed lists, this is hardly surprising,” explains Rob Clark, MD, Epson UK & Ireland.

This research supports the findings of a recent Epson study that confirms the paperless office is failing materialise. In the study 82 per cent of British employees saw the physical page as crucial and 86 per cent of those said that a ban on printing would limit their productivity.

Clark added: “Even with all the advances in digital technology, it’s interesting to see that the printed page still plays a key role for workplace creativity and efficiency. With employee productivity on the line, new businesses and start-ups need to invest in the right printing technology, one that is cost effective and can scale with their business as it grows.

“Our WorkForce Pro RIPS series virtually eliminates the traditional printing frustrations that businesses face – offering 75,000 pages of uninterrupted printing, low support costs, low energy consumption and increased reliability. They also work together with our range of interactive projectors which merge digital and analogue input, to capture, share and evolve ideas, in start-ups and beyond.” .


Commenting on the research findings, Tim Colman, Federation of Small Business Conference Chairman said: “It’s interesting that despite all the new digital tools and technologies available, pens, paper and the printed page still have a very important role to play in business. It highlights one of the biggest challenges that small businesses face when investing in new technology – identifying the right tools that will actually help them work more effectively. On top of that, small businesses have the additional pressure of ensuring their tech investment is cost effective and can grow with them, as their business grows.”