A place for print in the hybrid digital workplace

As offices reopen in a new hybrid world, some companies have found that old habits die hard

Despite early forecasts of print’s terminal decline post-Covid, volumes have remained high in the office and at home, exposing the workplace’s continuing reliance on paper-based processes.

On the road to digital transformation, print services are still very much in demand. In fact, over three-quarters (77%) of organisations maintain that print is fairly or very important to their business. But how can this trend be squared with the global drive towards sustainable, digitised workplace environments?

The answer lies within the print industry itself – particularly its ability to innovate beyond a legacy mindset and flex towards modern, hybrid workplace solutions. Managed print services (MPS) are rapidly emerging as enablers for digital progression, creating workflows that blend digital and printed approaches in a smooth and scalable way. As such, a solution exists that seamlessly combines the best parts of the ‘old’ office favourites with new, cloud-based applications – all into a single point of delivery.

Printing post-crisis

Although working practices were already evolving pre-Covid, rapidly accelerated digital transformation and the shift to hybrid working due to the pandemic has thrown a harsh spotlight on the UK’s established print industry. On the surface, the rise of cloud computing, and the subsequent drop in physical print volumes in some office environments, signals the decline of the traditional office print setup.

The growing trend towards sustainable workplace practices – largely driven by a new, environmentally conscious generation of workers aged 16-24 – raises further questions about the viability of print in 2022 and beyond. At a time when office print values remain uncertain, the pressure is on the industry to position itself to recapture its relevance with customers.

However, a closer look reveals that print is alive and kicking – just in different ways. HP’s Instant Ink service has doubled its subscriber count since the pandemic and now boasts over 10 million customers, who pay a monthly fee to receive automatic shipments of ink. Furthermore, as offices gradually reopen to staff, rising volumes of print have been observed in many workplaces. These trends point towards the shape of the hybrid workplace of the future, signalling the evolving role of physical print in both office and home working environments.

So, how can office print industry players adapt to this new normal? Accelerated technology changes inevitably bring a shift in customer expectations, meaning that MPS providers must seize the opportunity to offer broader and more interconnected workplace services.  

Tradition and innovation: bridging the gap

The print services industry has recognised the need to shift gears and mature their offering to incorporate the best elements of the ‘old’ way of working with new cloud-based solutions. As such, partnering with a single multi-service provider can give organisations the flexibility and scalability needed to embrace a truly hybrid approach.  

Rather than seeking out multiple suppliers to juggle complex and time-consuming operational processes, businesses can outsource their workplace services supplier and secure end-to-end touchpoint solutions that streamline digital and print-based workflows. At a time when productivity tools and digital transformation strategies are top of mind for IT decisionmakers – and 72% of organisations are planning to use cloud print management – the right MPS provider will be primed to expand its portfolio for this new hybrid era, ensuring print takes its place within a smart, connected ecosystem of technology services.

Hybrid mail is a powerful case in point. A secure and cost-effective digital mail service, it streamlines and accelerates traditional manual processes by bridging operational gaps and prioritising the delivery of critical mail. In this way, extended services can enhance business communication systems and successfully reconcile tradition with innovation, ensuring that forward-looking businesses can enjoy the best of both worlds. 

About the Author

Carl Day is Director of Sales & Marketing at Apogee Corporation. Carl has been in the technology and managed services industries for the majority of his professional life, and has extensive experience of leading direct and indirect sales teams in both B2B and B2C markets.

Featured image: ©Deberarr