Small businesses still favour traditional stationery for creative work

Pens, paper and whiteboards still form the creative backbone of young British businesses, with 82 per cent relying on them on a daily basis, research finds.

The UK is in the middle of a start-up boom with more than 608,000 new businesses launched in 2015 and more than 8,000 already having been started in 2016, according to Startup Britain.  

According to Tech City, as many as 15 per cent 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 whiteboards 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.

Respondents say they prefer 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, admit they like using pens, paper, whiteboards and writing tools to think creatively about tasks (73 per cent).

Pen, paper and physically writing down information is preferred by 72 per cent of start-up owners, with 82 per cent of those using them on a daily basis.

Only 1 per cent of those surveyed report that they had gone completely digital and no longer use pens, paper, whiteboards, or physically write things down.

Having said that, the research also reveals 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.

Rob Clark, managing director of Epson UK & Ireland says, ‘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.’

Further reading on creative work

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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