Google, Twitter, and Citigroup are merely a handful of well-known names that have officially made the call to bring employees back to the office beginning in March 2022. According to research from Microsoft, around fifty percent of leaders noted their companies plan to require a full-time return to work within the next year. These decisions are being made despite less than a quarter (17%) of non-executive employees preferring to work from the office every day.

A Hybrid Workforce?

how many people work from homeAround thirty percent of employees working remotely have admitted they will be extremely likely to search for a different job if their current company eliminates remote work. This is precisely why most businesses sounding the bell for a total return are also “attempting to be flexible with schedules.” And, seeing the overwhelming preference for splitting time between working at home and the office, many companies are choosing to offer hybrid work options.

A recent McKinsey study predicts that over twenty percent of the global workforce will work remotely three to five days per week moving forward. And a report from Gartner anticipates close to one-half of employees will work from home.

The decision to allow adaptive scheduling along with a mix of at-home and in-office work may enable businesses to keep more of their employees. But it can create pains for other parts of the company. IT is one of the departments most directly affected by the hybrid office. While human resources and management seek to juggle the communication and culture aspects of a newly created and dynamic business setting, IT is faced with the logistics of acquiring and managing the software, equipment, and services required to create a seamless work experience.

And printers continue to be a significant part of that workplace environment. Fifty percent of firms agree that, despite continued hype about paperless offices, printing will remain an essential aspect of their business. Over three-quarters of global organizations agree print is either fairly or very important to business operations. 

Catering Print to a Changing Office

One of the most significant issues for IT departments in the post-pandemic office is properly equipping employees. This becomes particularly difficult when it comes to printer access as many of the traditional printers are not completely capable of supporting a highly mobile and dynamic workforce. Rather than general use copiers or assigned desktop printers, businesses must now consider options and features that cater to an office environment where desks are multi-use and employees are in-office for only a portion of the week.

There are many features now available in the printer market that can cater to the hybrid and remote workforce. Remote printing, for instance, can allow employees to provide printed documents for in-office coworkers or have items printed and ready for when they come into the main office themselves. For added security, it is a good idea to couple remote print with hold/release functionality which allows the printer to retain print jobs in the queue until they are physically at the printer to claim the document.

Employees who only work in-office a couple of days a week are also likely to use the printer more heavily during their time at headquarters. In addition, offices with older or slower equipment may find it challenging to keep up with the speed and volume generated by the intermittent but substantial uptick in print jobs. A larger capacity printer can eliminate this challenge, saving employees time and allowing work to continue at an efficient pace.

But replacing office printers with newer, upgraded models means dedicating IT time to researching options. It also means a potentially hefty ding to the equipment budget. While this tech-savvy group may know how to configure servers and handle any number of computer problems, they are usually not printing experts. Even with a great deal of research, they may have issues determining the exact print needs to accommodate the entire organization. And the wrong printing equipment can cost the business additional money in both capital expenses and employee time and energy. 

How Print Services Can Help

Consulting with a print industry expert such as a managed print services, printer leasing, or printer maintenance provider can help address the issue of equipment costs. These printing businesses have a wealth of knowledge from working with various offices. And, as every company’s “return to work” has been different, they have usually seen a multitude of configurations already. They can use their experiences to help each of their business partners create comprehensive recommendations that fit employee needs and the available budget. In addition to consultation and equipment sales, many printer companies even offer a wide range of services that can help reduce the impact up-front costs could incur on the IT equipment bottom line.

The IT department might have a long list of equipment, services, and logistics to make the post-pandemic office work smoothly. But that doesn’t mean everything on the list has to take up a significant amount of time or budget. Instead, there are options, partners, and services available that can make printers the least troublesome of IT’s return-to-office concerns.