I’ll take a paper cut over a migraine headache any day

I’ve never believed that a “paperless office” improves productivity. Perhaps it’s because of my age (70), or the fact that I spent 20 years working for a newspaper. I now firmly believe that it’s because I have a love-hate relationship with my computer screen. Do you? Today, I’m literally the only person NOT gawking at a smartphone screen on the bus that takes me to work each morning. That reduces stress and brings a smile to my wrinkled face.

However, I recently realized something that surprised even me. In the daily chore of proofreading this magazine and other documents, I discovered that I hardly, if ever, proofread from a digital document. I invariably print it and mark corrections with a pen (an archaic instrument popular in the 1970s and 1980s). I then asked myself: “Myself, why do I do this unconsciously every day?” Here’s the answer: I’m tired – of stiff necks, sore backs and the headaches I get after only a couple of hours mentally cemented to my 20” computer screen.

I recently posted an article on our website on the health risks of the paperless office by Ian Lifshitz, VP of Sustainability & Stakeholder Relations at APP Canada. His revealed that today’s paperless offices actually result in lower productivity and fatigued workers. Ever hear of Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS? It affects about 90% of employees who spend three hours or more a day in front of a computer. Other problematic factors include room lighting, distance from the screen, screen glare, seating posture, etc. One or all of these can cause headaches, neck and shoulder pain and much more. I’ll take a few paper cuts over this nonsense any day.

Lifshitz suggests striking a balance between a tech-enabled workforce and employees who are healthier and therefore more productive. Does your workplace encourage regular breaks? If not, it might be time to act. Or maybe you should stop reading long columns of text – like this one. Just kidding! Now, if you do feel a headache coming on, it’s probably because you glanced at my H&S photo below for more than one second!

Until next time, always remember that we’re here to help.


Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.