In the mobile-first, cloud-enabled world, the role of printing is changing dramatically. Gone are the days when hard copies were printed out and filed away simply for the purpose of keeping records. Today, most documents are created, shared, and stored digitally, and don’t require printing at all.

Printing to paper in today’s workplace should be a mindful, intentional decision that is utilized for specific reasons. Unfortunately,  too many people are still stuck in old modes of working and click the print button without really thinking about whether it’s necessary.

These impulse prints clog up the system, drive up costs, and are environmentally damaging as well. And it’s not only the excessive use of paper that is a problem. According to publishing industry expert David Brimble, fossil oil-based ink produces more pollution during manufacturing, can be toxic while being used, and emits climate-warming compounds.

Communication Tips That Can Help Reduce Print Costs

Spreading a culture of mindful printing starts with effective employee communication. Let’s take a look at some things to consider when creating your internal communications (e.g., posters, newsletters, memos, emails, etc.) to improve the culture of printing in your company.

1. Raising Awareness Is Crucial

Did you know that approximately 4 billion trees are cut down annually for global paper production? That’s a staggering number. Being intentional in the use of paper for printing can go a long way towards bringing that number down and reducing costs for your company.

The primary goal of your communications should be around raising awareness about the costs of printing—not just in terms of the dollar costs of ink and paper, but also in terms of the associated environmental impact. There will always be employees whose first instinct is to simply click the print button on a document, without consciously thinking about whether they need to. But that can change once they understand the far-reaching impact of mindless printing.

Ideas to increase awareness include:

  • Placing posters near printers where employees pick up printed documents
  • Including messages at the bottom of email signatures regarding the print policies
  • Pinning related announcements or banners in digital communication tools employees use, such as the company’s intranet, Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc.
  • Send regular emails comparing individual printing to average print volumes (e.g., “you printed 25% more than your peers in the last 30 days.”)

2. Use Visual Storytelling

Your communications will become far more effective when you use striking images that convey the true cost of unnecessary printing. Naturally, the true cost is not found in the single page or presentation. Rather, it’s in the costs that add up over a week, a month, and a year across the entire company.

The average American worker prints over 10,000 pages per year. Work out how much paper and ink has been used within your organization over a set period, and communicate that visually with your team.

For example, you could zero in on a local landmark or an instantly recognizable structure, then illustrate a comparison using a vertical stack of paper representing the total page output for that specific period.

If your annual page output is as tall as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, showing that visually will immediately influence your employees’ printing habits. (Tip: 1,000 sheets of paper yields a pile that’s 11.8 centimeters or 4.65 inches high.)

3. Highlight the Difference Between Color and Black-and-White Printing

Organizations need to impress on their employees that printing in color costs a lot more than printing in black and white – as much as ten times more! It will seem obvious once they know it, but chances are they have never really thought about it. Get the message across that black and white is just as functional, and that color only needs to be employed in specific situations, not as the default setting.

Here’s an idea—display a series of posters in the office that show the beauty of black-and-white images. What about showcasing the stunning photography of Ansel Adams that highlights just how effective black-and-white imagery can be? Or find some posters from gorgeous black-and-white classic Hollywood movies that show the mood and depth of black and white prints. How you communicate it is up to you—but if it’s done creatively and cleverly, then it will have the impact you are looking to achieve.

You can use color very effectively in your communications in a way that makes people understand how sparingly color should be used. For example, perhaps the only time your company needs to print in color is when you’re presenting to a client or when the color in a graph or image is necessary to underscore a particular point. But if you’re printing in color just so you can make a graphic element pop or add a “fun feel,” then it’s nothing more than an indulgence and there’s a good chance that black and white can do the job for you.

4. Use Fun Facts to Bring the Point Home

People love to have a couple of facts up their sleeves that they can use to impress their friends about how much they know. Use that to your advantage. Help them with a few fun printing facts that they can memorize and ultimately share.

Here are a few examples:

  • Did you know it takes 13 ounces of water to make one sheet of paper?
  • Did you know that Americans throw away enough office paper each year to build a 12-foot-high wall stretching from New York to San Francisco?
  • The average employee prints around 10,000 pages annually, equivalent to 1.3 trees.

These conversation starters are a handy way to nudge people in the right direction and make them see that they don’t need to print multiple copies of a document simply because that’s what they’ve always done in the past. At the same time, try not to overwhelm your visual communications with unnecessary data. Keep it simple and minimal with one key idea highlighted.

Here’s a left-field idea—try running a contest in which the employee who reduces their print output the most over a set period of time gets rewarded. Share their updates and mark milestones along the way, and make sure the prize is worthwhile. It’s not that hard to help people make small differences in their behavior once they understand the why. The moment you disrupt the thought processes and patterns around printing, you can start to make a real difference.

5. Sometimes You Need to State the Obvious

Some things may seem obvious to you, but not everyone knows all of the tips and tricks about printing. Perhaps your employees have only ever clicked the printer icon in the browser and never investigated what options are available for printing. Spell this out in plain language that everyone can understand. You don’t have to be overly clever and witty with your communications, especially when a good old-fashioned “how-to” guide with clear, concise instructions on how to use available printing tools is all they need to get the message.

What kind of communications are necessary? Try a few of these:

  • Explain how to print on both sides of a sheet of paper (duplex printing) with a clear step-by-step guide.
  • Let your staff know about the Print Preview function and how useful that is to limit excess printing.
  • Show them how to reduce the font size on a document so they can fit more words onto a page.

These guides can be shared as quick-tip sheets or posters at strategic locations around the office or emailed to everyone.

6. Bring Attention to the Working Document Before Printing

Start by sending out a checklist that reminds people of the value of proofreading documents before they print. Items in the checklist should ask things like:

  • If they’ve run a spellchecker
  • If they’re happy with the size of the font
  • If they’ve deleted the extra spaces or gaps between paragraphs
  • If they’ve chosen correctly between landscape and portrait
  • If they’ve correctly formatted the size of the images

Too often someone will print a document out, then see the errors, fix them, print again, spot another error, fix, print, and on and on—it’s wasteful and inefficient. Frequent and well-thought-out communication about getting the document right before sending it to print can help minimize the amount of wasted paper. In the digital age, printing a hard copy only needs to occur when employees are sure they have gotten everything right.

With all of these communications around reducing printing costs, it’s important to incorporate the look and feel of your brand. That gives the campaign a level of authenticity that shows people you’re taking this seriously.

More Effective Printing Processes with Pharos

Pharos offers top-of-the-line cloud print management solutions that streamline the print process, which will save you time and money and dramatically reduce wastage. To learn more about streamlining your print infrastructure, contact us today to schedule a personalized demo of Pharos Cloud.


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