Friday Funny: Wasting Time Making Copies

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

People in the copy room. The days of congregating around the water cooler or the vending machines are practically gone, thanks to the popularity and convenience of bottled water and portable coffee machines. However, that doesn’t stop employees from finding places to gather to discuss the latest television program, commiserate over a sporting event, or catch up on office gossip. Today, the centralized copier/printer area is the place to go and waste time, according to a new survey released by Brother International Corporation.

Compared with offices that have a greater number of shared printers, employees at offices with centralized copier/printers spend, on average, an additional three minutes each day on printing. Over the course of a year, this means an extra 13 hours spent at the printer. For a company of 500 employees, this could translate to 6,500 wasted hours.

Centralized Copier/Printers = Distractions

Waiting in the printing queue, walking a long distance to a printer, and becoming distracted by other people while walking to or waiting for the printer can all lead to lowered productivity in the workplace. (And with the increasing availability of 3D printing, that number will more than likely rise significantly.)

In fact, 61% of employees surveyed stated that they have conversations at the copier/printer and that they are four times more likely to engage in conversations there–compared with just 31% who have conversations at the water cooler.

In addition, those who engage in non-work conversations at the printer are 98% more likely to stop by other colleagues’ desks to chat about personal things, but only 28% more likely to chat about work. And they are 42% more likely to get intercepted by those wanting to chat as well.

Using centralized printers has an impact on printing behaviors as well. The survey also revealed that those who use centralized copier/printers are more likely to minimize printing because walking the distance to pick up is inconvenient. They are also more likely than those not using a centralized printer to forget to pick up documents after sending them and attempt to attend meetings without hard copies of documents.

“As print volumes change, we know that many small- to medium-sized businesses may be underusing their copier/printers and have placed them ineffectively, thus leading to cost and productivity implications,” said Dan Waldinger, Director of Services and Solutions Marketing at Brother. “Our survey findings further demonstrate how ineffective placement can promote behaviors that may ultimately lead to significant productivity loss.”

Department Based Printers More Efficient

Surveyed employees with printers located within their own departments were far less likely to lose productivity, and they were 36% more likely to engage in mostly work-related conversations while waiting for a print job to finish, this compared to those who also have printers outside their department.

More than half of all employees surveyed want their company to replace centralized copier/printers with more efficient devices for more user-friendly printing. And at 48.5%, nearly half of those with centralized printing would prefer a shorter distance between their desk and the copier/printer/scanner.

The survey also revealed that workers with more shared printers are more digitally engaged. More of them say that their companies encourage the use of digital documents, use multiple screens, find reading on screen easier, use more mobile devices than they used to, and are more environmentally conscious. Those who have centralized printers are more than two times more likely to say that their company printers do not work well and that they take too long to finish printing jobs.