2020 and 2021 changed the way people work around the globe and across industries, and printing is no exception. How much companies print—and why and from where—became very different, and the need for improved print workflow and flexibility became apparent.

2022 promises to be different yet again, but it’s unlikely that things will ever go back to pre-pandemic status. For one, hybrid and remote work are here to stay, and digitalization of processes has sped up dramatically in response to COVID-19.

While some offices are opening up and bringing employees back in, many are not, and most employees expect a hybrid remote/in-office situation in 2022. In fact, only 10% of American workers expect to be in the office full-time next year.

While increased numbers of remote employees have impacted the print industry, they haven’t eliminated it by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s likely that by December 2022, on-site print volumes won’t be far off from pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, the new landscape could present an exciting opportunity for organizations adopting cloud printingsince providers are well positioned to help streamline offices as they move into the future.

Trends to Monitor in 2022

A majority of workers who work from home now expect to be going back to the office in 2022—but only part-time. 56% of U.S. and 58% of European employees expect to be in a hybrid work situation by January 2022, which means an increase in on-site printing needs. Not to mention, print still plays an important role in workers’ at-home lives, both for work and personal reasons.

Much of what happens in 2022 will be determined by what happens with new COVID-19 variants, so companies need to be prepared for a shifting landscape. Security should be top of mind, and smart IT departments are investing in shoring up vulnerabilities in print equipment and networks. Meanwhile, managed print services are still maintaining traction.

With this in mind, consider some key trends, stats, and predictions to get a picture of what 2022 might look like:

1. Yes, 2020 and 2021 Saw Less Printing Overall, but It Is On the Rebound

It’s worth acknowledging that printing overall saw a drop in 2020 and 2021. Yale University released stats on its own printing needs in 2020 and found that from March to April 2020, there was a 90% decrease in costs associated with paper purchase and a 96% decrease in printing costs. However, office print volumes are expected to recover to 80% of pre-COVID output by December 2022. Meanwhile, home printing is expected to increase by 25% over pre-pandemic levels in that time.

2. Printing Is Still Preferred

55% of respondents in a print-from-home study conducted by Pharos said they’re more productive and retain information better when working with paper. Less than 20% preferred digital documents. This means printing is still important, and in general, printed materials are unlikely to go away anytime soon.

3. Business Printing Is Going Nowhere

According to Quocirca’s 2020 report on printer security, 77% of IT Decision Makers (ITDMs) in the U.S. and Europe believed printing would still be very important to their enterprise in 2021, even though COVID-19 radically changed the face of business interaction and set some employees on the path to permanent remote work. That 77% includes a significant group (29%) who considered printing as “critical” to their business’ success.

4. Demand for Cloud Services (Including Print) Will Continue to Rise

Companies continue to embrace cloud computing for a variety of IT services, and 34% of all organizations use the cloud for all their IT needs, with 70% of them planning to increase their budgets in the future. In fact, the cloud computing sector expects a CAGR of 17.5% between 2020 and 2025, bringing that market to $832 billion. Cloud-based print management stands to be a big part of that uptick.

In a study of 219 organizations conducted in January 2021, over 75% said they expect to adopt cloud print management by 2025, and 45% say cloud print management is a key consideration when choosing a managed print service provider.

At the same time, there’s room for growth here. According to Quocirca’s 2021 market landscape report, 21% of respondents are using cloud print services to manage more than 50% of the workload. This stands to increase in 2022.

5. Security Is Top of Mind

42% of respondents from a global survey say they’re already in the process of adopting a zero trust strategy. In total, 72% have either already adopted zero trust and security principles or plan to in the future. Security concerns were top priority even before the pandemic, but with so many workers working from home now, zero trust principles need to be top of mind, especially in printing, where security vulnerabilities are common.

In fact, 64% of IT Decision Makers in the above-referenced Quocirca report on printer security suffered print-related data loss in 2020, costing them an average of $1 million just from printer security failures. These losses were due to a conglomeration of factors, from malware to cyberattacks to improper disposal of printed material. Given the increased need for remote-ready operations, including the security risks this entails and losses already incurred, 78% of those same ITDMs surveyed planned to increase security spending in 2021. 2022 can be expected to look very similar in this regard.

6. Health Remains a Concern

Concerns over touching shared surfaces are likely here to stay. Perhaps because of these concerns, the gesture recognition and touchless sensing market is expected to grow by 22.6% to $37 billion by 2026. So touchless print release will remain an important innovation. Even academic institutions are getting in on touchless printing, with MIT announcing in February that touchless print release would be available for students returning to campus.

7. Print Analytics Will Be a Major Contributor to Success

As organizations look to keep up with the constantly changing post-pandemic landscape, robust analytics like Pharos’s Beacon Analytics help them understand how the pandemic has impacted their print office printing environment and adjust accordingly. Organizations will leverage actionable insights to identify outliers and cost savings opportunities. Businesses that take advantage of this data to optimize their print environment can remain efficient and ensure employees have the tools needed to stay productive.

9. Companies Are Embracing Managed Print Services

63% of the ITDMs surveyed in the print security report by Quocirca use managed print services, and according to the report, “a managed print service is fundamental to ensuring that an organization operates a secure and cost-efficient print infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, the managed print services market is expected to grow to over $50 billion by 2023 (up from $28 billion in 2016), with a CAGR of 8.5% between 2017 and 2023. Plenty believe this sector is primed for a comeback in 2022.

Specifically, managed service providers (MSPs) who are tailored to hybrid work environments, offering both in-office and print-from-home solutions with robust security, stand to have the advantage in this new work paradigm.

Flexibility and Agility Will Define Printing in 2022

2022 promises to be an exciting year for business in general. Although the lingering COVID-19 pandemic isn’t showing signs of disappearing soon, companies and employees have learned a great deal about how to stay productive despite changing circumstances.

Printing, like all other industries, took a hit in 2020, scrambled to adjust in 2021, and now finds itself poised to enter a new era in 2022. The need for improved security, more ways to print regardless of location, and top-notch MSPs to help manage printing in a holistic fashion is clear.

So companies, employees, and print management providers will all have to remain flexible, agile, and innovative as 2022 plays out. Those players that can do this stand to come out ahead not only over the next year but also in the years to come.

Pharos is well positioned to help organizations be at the forefront of this new era. If you’re ready to find out how Pharos can help you adapt to the changing environment and become more resilient, contact us now for a demo of Beacon, Pharos’s innovative cloud-based print management solution.