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Paper vs. Screen: When to print, and why

Posted Tue, October 14, 2014 by Array

The digital age is here to stay. More and more information is moving from paper to screen, and businesses are evolving rapidly just to keep up. While there's no denying the time- and resource-saving benefits of going digital in the office, once in a while old-fashioned print still comes out on top.

Digital Dilemmas

Compared to print, digital documents are easier to sort, find, update, and distribute. (We’d argue, of course, that part of the hassle of printing is not having someone else manage your print services.) Studies show that the average U.S. office worker prints 10,000 pages a year and makes over 60 trips to the printer, copier, or fax machine each week. Many of those hours and resources can be salvaged through digital options.

Keep these documents digital

  • Agendas: All right, who wants to hand out meeting schedules to everyone in the office? Don't all raise your hands at once, now! On second thought, let's just send a mass email with a single click. Employees can print it out if they wish, or keep it tucked away neatly in their inboxes.
  • Images: Unless you need to hand them out for a meeting or presentation, try to keep colorful images on the computer or projector screen. Studies reveal that toner ink costs more per ounce than Chanel No. 5 perfume.
  • Routine bills and account statements: If you can, manage and pay routine bills online and opt out of having them mailed to the office. These include internet, insurance, and utility bills. You'll save yourself time, hassle, and postage fees.

Don't pout – print it out

Print has its share of selling points. It's easier on the eyes, saves screen space when multitasking, and helps keep employees focused on the task at hand. It also helps keep your employees' information secure in the event of a digital data breach.

Here are a few documents better in hand than on screen:

  • Documents for new hires: Some things never change, and paperwork is one of them. You should definitely still provide employees with physical copies of insurance forms, nondisclosure agreements, computer policies, the company handbook, and other new hire essentials.
  • Client documents: If you're meeting with clients or business partners, you definitely want to give them something they can hold in their hands. It makes it easier for them to jot down notes when you present, stay engaged, and remember you after the meeting ends.
  • Tax forms: Having tax forms in print helps you spot errors and serves as a constant reminder to file on time. If you're an early filer and don't mind managing your taxes digitally, then by all means go for it. However, employees should still swing by human resources to pick up their annual W-2 form.
  • Temporary documents: Some things aren't worth keeping in your file cabinets or hard drive. These include regularly updated documents such as retirement account summaries, pay stubs, and policy information. Keep the most recent copy in a safe place, and shred the rest.

In many cases, digital and print work equally well. What do you do then? The answer - choose both. Mobile scanners can quickly copy print documents into a variety of digital file formats without eating up your office real estate like traditional bulky scanners. Work with your employees to develop efficient guidelines for when to go digital vs. when to print. Chances are you'll boost efficiency and open up your budget.

Background image courtesy Joel Penner

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Tags : printing , workflow