Printing in the modern workplace

I never thought the day would come when I’d be excited to speak about printing, or even be speaking about printing at all – and yet here we are!

But before we look at the exciting part, let’s take a look at why we’re talking about printing at all – after all, wasn’t the paperless office meant to happen decades ago?

The (not-so) paperless office

It feels like yesterday that journalists, business leaders, and just about everyone else were talking about moving to a paperless office. With computers rapidly being used for just about everything, it seemed like none of us would need paper anymore. Everyone started looking at a paperless office as the perfect way to cut costs and their impact on the environment.

But of course, that wasn’t yesterday – people have been talking about paperless offices for over three decades. Back in the day, Businessweek even predicted that by 1990 none of us would be using paper anymore.

Looks like we didn’t quite live up to that prediction though. These days, the average office worker in the US is still using 10,000 sheets of paper a year – a total of 4 million tonnes of copy paper annually. And it’s no different here in NZ – most of our companies are still relying on paper for everything from notes for meetings to contracts to briefs.

So if we haven’t achieved paperless offices, has printing moved on at all?

The problem with printing

Until now, printing’s basically stayed the same – most companies are still using standard Microsoft print servers, which are only accessible when a user is on the corporate network, in the physical office.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t exactly support the strategy that many organisations are trying to follow around building a modern workplace and digital workspaces. I’ve had countless conversations recently with CIOs and IT Managers who are transforming their workplaces and designing delivery of their services so that people can be productive from anywhere. Often, they are taking a modern approach and assuming that their people will be connecting from untrusted locations or, to put it another way, they are enabling people to be productive from anywhere.

Unfortunately, printing can throw a serious spanner in the works when it comes to building a modern workplace. You don’t want to have weird exceptions to the digital workspace – how annoying to be able to work remotely but not be able to print. Or to use your BYOD devices at the office, but not be able to print. Traditional printing just doesn’t allow the kind of flexibility needed for employees to work anytime, anywhere, from any device.

So how do we fundamentally change the way we design the modern workplace to better allow people to not only work from anywhere and from any device, but also print from anywhere and from any device?

Cloud Printing

The answer lies in designing solutions that, by default, don’t care where you are. Two of our core tenants for a successful digital workspace are Productive from anywhere and Serviced from anywhere; by designing a solution that works anywhere, you’ve immediately met these two and hopefully a third one: An awesome employee experience. Cloud-based solutions are the answer to meeting these tenants.

We’re excited to be partnering with Printix, who solely focus on cloud printing, to create solutions for clients that enable real flexibility. They’ve managed to take the most boring part of IT and modernise it, throwing in functionality that allows you to easily print from any device, and from anywhere.

A modern workplace in action

Let’s look at a nationwide real estate company. They run a very distributed model where the branches don’t have centralised IT – individual branches just sort themselves. When people move between offices, they can’t always get access to the systems and tools they need – and printing’s the main concern

With over 40 branches across the country and hundreds of staff who roam, this real estate company is embracing a modern way of working – but printing is still a major headache. They don’t know who’s printing what and it’s hard for them to deploy and manage print queues on devices because of their decentralised IT operations. But with 4 million pages per year being printed (those sale and purchase agreements sure are long!) it’s vital that they find a solution so that printing becomes less painful and more efficient.

Enter cloud printing. As people move between offices, printers in the new office automatically become available to them as they show up. Employees can print directly from their mobile devices and laptops, without wasting time setting up print drivers. Using Printix, they’re able to print from anywhere (even before they get to an office), access printers at any office they stop by, and line up confidential documents to print only when they’re at the printer. The hassle of setting up macs is resolved and the inability to print from mobile devices is also resolved.

The company gets advanced, modern reporting with an overarching view of who is printing what (and how much), enables their people to print from, and builds a better employee experience by giving their team the ability to truly be productive from anywhere they can work.

Cloud-based printing isn’t just for companies printing millions of pages a year either – it’s for any organisation embracing a modern way of working where traditional printing just doesn’t deliver. Like I said, I’m still surprised by how excited I am to be talking about printing – but it really is exciting to have a solution to one of the major barriers to a fully digital workspace. If you’d like to look at how to build a modern workplace from the ground up – and make sure your printing’s just as modern as the rest of your organisation – get in touch today.

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