In an era where hybrid workforces, digitization, and efficient processes rule the business landscape, high-performing teams need to keep up with the latest innovations to stay competitive and keep their edge.
To some, this may mean a reduction or even an end to paper-intensive workflows. While some processes have proven they don’t need to exist on paper anymore, the truth is more complex. It turns out that smart use of printed documents in the workplace is one way high-performing teams outperform their peers.
One common misconception of office printing is that it’s primarily driven by printing emails, presentations, and other documents that would otherwise be left on the screen. This perception is both incomplete and inaccurate. In fact, high-performance teams and highly-productive individuals print documents strategically in a number of ways.
Paper vs. Digital: Why Printed Material Is Better for Comprehension
Over the past decade, much of what was traditionally read on paper has migrated to the digital realm. As companies have gone more and more digital, research has explored the impact this has had on how well material is retained— and the results favor printed material.
Details Are Better Retained with Printed Material
Printed material is easier to comprehend and retain than digital text. For short content that’s not as critical, like emails, this may not matter. But as material gets longer and more complex, detailed retention and understanding becomes crucial. For this type of material, says Anne Mangen, a literacy professor at the University of Stavanger in Norway, “digital reading impairs comprehension.”
Support for this hypothesis came from a 2016 study by Lauren Singer-Trakhman and Patricia Alexander, professors at the University of Maryland, College Park. Students’ understanding of the main point of a piece of reading material didn’t vary much between print and digital formats, but they missed important details and supporting information when reading on a screen.
The exact causes of this are still debated and likely include a confluence of factors, but one explanation is “shallowing”, a hypothesis that says consistent exposure to fast-paced, digital media teaches the brain to process screen-based information quickly and with less depth, according to Naomi S. Baron, professor of Linguistics Emerita at American University.
More Evidence That Comprehension Is Better with Printed Material
Other research has uncovered additional evidence of this, including:
- The brain processes print text differently than screen text, according to a 2009 study by Bangor University and Millward Brown.
- Scrolling through digital text may inhibit comprehension by interrupting spatial and physical cues used to help memory.
- Readers have been found to be overconfident about their comprehension when reading on screens versus on printed paper.
In addition to the advantages printed material gives for comprehension of complex material, studies have also shown hand-written notes to be superior to typing when it comes to retention.
Key Considerations for Printing from Home
Although remote work has proven that some things are better left in the digital realm, printing is still a necessity in many high-functioning workflows. In some cases, printing is necessary to stay in compliance with regulatory mandates or other requirements. Some marketing materials—brochures, printed reports, presentations—need to be printed to be distributed. Training materials, manuals, point-of-sale material, posters, and product inserts are all types of content that often need to be printed.
Enabling Various Print Options for Employees
Enabling remote employees to stay productive means making sure team members can print to office printers from anywhere and helping remote workers print at home in a secure manner. After all, a remote employee cannot be expected to drop everything and travel to the office every time they need to print. For some, that may not even be an option.
Security is a major concern with at-home printing. Since printers are often overlooked as a potential security risk, hackers are all too often able to access unsecured printers on a home network. It takes a properly configured print management system to ensure that not just anyone can access the office print system—to reduce the risk of losing sensitive information.
Print Insights for Streamlining Operations
Print Insights also plays a major role in making sure employees are able to print efficiently. Analyzing usage with complete data means a better understanding of what’s being printed, why it’s being printed, and by whom—to quickly identify outliers and cost-savings opportunities. One company may find it cost-effective to provide materials like paper and ink cartridges to remote workers, and another may find it works better to print everything in-house. Considering all factors—usage, materials expense, time, and security—is key to making the right decisions.
Crucial Considerations When Printing in the Office
Printing Won’t Go Away
The idea of a paperless office has been around for at least 45 years. It was first described in a 1975 Business Week article titled “The Office of the Future,” which also predicted paperless offices by 1990. Of course, this did not come to pass. The fact is that print remains a necessary “dial tone” service for companies in many industries.
The 2003 book from MIT Press, The Myth of the Paperless Office, may be the most authoritative description of why paper is so sticky—people actually like using it to get work done.
There’s No Substitute for Printing
Some printed matter can never be replaced. Even in marketing, savvy marketers are finding that print materials such as flyers or posters can be more effective in getting attention and eliciting response than their digital counterparts. In a recent study from September 2021, researchers found stronger encoding and engagement for print ads over digital ads, as well as better memory retention. To that point, print ads can enhance the effectiveness of other forms of advertising.
Not to mention, print media is trusted over digital content across many demographics. Whether it’s an ad or a news article, studies continually find that consumers trust printed material over digital and online content.
Printing Works in Pre-Sale and is Needed Post-Sale
As the value of printed material from brochures to flyers to posters to direct mail remains high, so does the necessity for printed material post-sale. Manuals must accompany many products, from appliances to equipment to furniture. Training sessions need texts and workbooks.
Compliance and Regulations Often Require Printing
In addition, some material must be printed and stored to be in compliance with regulations. State organizations, for example, often require paper documents and forms or hard copies of licenses and other credentials. State agencies are often required to serve respondents with physical documents, and in some instances follow up via mail.
Understanding what needs printing and why is just one of many ways that high-performing teams excel in their job functions. Doing this efficiently is what puts them ahead of everyone else, which is why print management solutions are cementing their reputation as a workplace necessity.
High-Performing Teams Need High-Performing Print Tools
The role that printing continues to play in a highly digitized work environment cannot be overstated. Although this role is likely to diminish in the long run, it will not go away completely. Teams need to understand how printed material fits into their company’s overall master plan and how to best get the job done cost-efficiently.
This means high-performing teams need to keep up with ever-evolving trends and continue digitization and decentralization, and printing can’t linger in the past any more than other processes.
The tools great teams need for printing—all while staying efficient, under budget, and secure—are available and ready to help move printing into the future. If your team is ready to level up and take control of printing in the digital age, contact Pharos for a personalized demo of Pharos Cloud, our innovative, cloud-based print management solution.