Going paperless is tempting, but it has its drawbacks.
We get it — managing paper documents can be a headache. You live in an age where, with the quick tap of a search query, you can usually find whatever you need in your database or online in seconds. As many begin to ditching home printers, opting to read documents on screens or e-readers, you may feel the desire to do the same in your office as well. As tempting as that can be, office copiers and printers are here to stay. Here are six reasons why this is so.
1. Sometimes, hard copies are legally required.
Many materials can be viewed online, kept in a digital database, and trashed when they’re no longer necessary. Other documents may have legal stipulations governing how long a business must hold onto them. Tax records, receipts, leases, and other materials are best printed kept in hard copy form. It’s also a smart business move to keep certain hard copies of essential documents in the event of a cyber attack or audit. Said hard copies of insurance policies, tax information, contracts, annual reports, and similar items should be kept in a secure filing system. Your company will be glad they did if they become threatened by a ransomware attack or if the IRS comes knocking.
2. Your clients aren’t paperless.
Even if you’re thoroughly convinced that going paperless is the future, your customers (you know, the people paying your salary and keeping the energy-conserving LED lights on in your office) likely haven’t caught your zeal to the point of doing the same. They expect paper reports, receipts, contracts, invoices, bills, and the like. If you have to outsource your printing to a local shop just for them, you’re going to waste a lot of time and money on something that would have taken mere seconds in the office. Also, relying on printers outside of your office can expose sensitive client data to third-party print centers — an identity security nightmare just waiting to happen.
If you still have concerns about the environmental implications of printing, don’t worry—modern office printers are very energy efficient. When in doubt, you can always use recycled paper or established a duplex printing (printing on both sides of the paper) policy.
3. The look, the feel, of paper…(insert bad jingle here).
Despite our affinity for screens, there’s still something about taking a red pen to a printed draft of an article, report, presentation, or document in need of some tangible fixes. There’s also something about pinning a paper notice, report, or reminder on the wall of your workspace to keep your head in the game or to remind co-workers of the proper breakroom etiquette—chiefly “If you kill the joe, you make some mo’.” Reviewing a digital slide show on a computer is doable, but spending time with a printed explanation of benefits over a cup of coffee in an armchair is going to allow for greater comprehension and, ultimately, better decision-making.
4. The convenience of a hardcopy presentation.
Most reasons for keeping printers and copiers on sight revolve around a single idea: convenience. When you have an efficient, feature-rich, and secure printer at your disposal, life is just more comfortable. Business can progress without wondering how on earth you’re going to take that presentation with you, deliver it to someone else, or if you’ll have the technology available to you at your destination. Even if you plan on being able to email a copy of the presentation to the client, a professionally prepared hardcopy leaves them with something to thumb through.
5. Printing Offsite is Often an Expensive Hassle
Even if an on-site copier or printer is removed, the need for such likely remains. The price-per-page copies or print rates can be exorbitant in comparison to the price of ownership of a commercial copier or printer device. In addition to the actual cost, also factor in wait times for print jobs, travel to pick up prints or copies, or the potential security risks posed by printing documents with these entities.
6. Some Documents Are Best Printed
Even office printing and copying advocates have to admit—there are some documents that don’t require printing. Many items are as easily saved to PDF in a cloud file. A presentation can be emailed to a colleague for review. Other documents—well, they will likely always be best printed. Resumes are still best in paper form—either to review or for making notes on during an interview. Tickets—either boarding passes, hotel reservations, or event admission—are always best printed as a precaution against dying mobile device batteries or the dreaded cracked screen that can render any QR code unscannable.
Is the rate of printing slowing down? A bit. Still, thanks to innovative designs, those who prefer paper and who prefer environmental responsibility are each getting their way.